For companies in the cloud storage business, standing out from the pack isn't getting any easier, as many competing services are racing to the bottom with both free and paid offerings.
That explains why some providers, such as Dropbox and Box, are diversifying. On Wednesday, for instance, Dropbox announced new apps and services such as Carousel (pictured above) and Mailbox for Android. The hope is that users will consider more than just the price tag when picking a cloud storage service.
[ Also check out the review: Box beats Dropbox -- and all the rest -- for business. | Control your storage requirements by eliminating data redundancy. InfoWorld lays it all out in our Deep Dive Report on Data Deduplication. | Keep up with the latest approaches to managing information overload and compliance in InfoWorld's Enterprise Data Explosion newsletter. ]
If freebies and low prices are all that matter, users have plenty of better options than Dropbox. Google Drive, Box, Barracuda Copy and MediaFire all offer at least 10 GB of free storage. And for users who upgrade to paid storage, the costs are shrinking. Google recently slashed its prices to undercut nearly every other competitor, prompting similar price cuts from MediaFire and iDrive.
The price cuts and expanded free storage leave companies like Dropbox with two options: further reduce prices, or find another way to generate paying customers. Dropbox has chosen the latter. With Mailbox and Carousel, the idea is to create apps that become part of users' day-to-day lives--and apps that are so valuable that customers will gladly pay for extra storage if they need it.
This isn't an entirely new strategy for Dropbox. Last year, Dropbox added new developer tools that made it easier for apps to store files in the cloud. At the time, Dropbox proclaimed that it was trying to kill the hard drive, expecting that users would just store everything online instead.
Dropbox's own apps are a slight pivot on that strategy. Beyond just adding cloud storage as an option to existing apps, Dropbox is creating its own apps where cloud storage is the defining element. Carousel is the perfect example. The app is designed for sharing photos and videos privately with friends and family, away from the prying eyes of social networks. Where are those files stored? On Dropbox, of course.