How Should Dropbox Respond To Google Drive's Price Cut?

Google made big news last week when they dramatically cut the price of Google Drive storage. I've always been a heavy Dropbox user (as well as Evernote), so I hadn't gone "all in" on Drive. I've always thought Drive was a useful service, but I don't collaborate with a ton of people so the sharing options weren't something I used.

When I saw the changes to the pricing, I decided to put it through the works. My test included dropping my 67 GB photo library into the Mac app. It finished with 1 error. I told the app to re-sync and it worked fine. I also tried the same test through the web interface and only got 2 errors. In case you are wondering, yes I did upload 67 GB through a web interface with 1 drag and drop (using Chrome). To me, that's amazing. It really shows that Google knows how to make web services. One thing that the Mac app can't do (that Dropbox can) is to do selective sync on interior folders. Only folders in the main root Drive folder can use selective sync. It's an all or none type choice.

Google Drive's iOS app is also really nice. As a photo viewer, it's easy to see thumbnails and everything loads fast (even movie playback). It allows multi user sign in (work and home) where Dropbox does not. One glaring ommision is that it can't play audio files inside the app. The iOS versions of the productivity apps aren't as full featured as the web versions, but it's certainly functional.

At $2/mo for 100 GB, Drive makes a nice backup for your photos. I'll be updating my photo book soon to reflect how using it can impact your workflows. One nice feature of Drive is that shared files aren't double taxed like they are on Dropbox. Google also doesn't count Google Drive created files against your quota.

Dropbox has been the king of the folder syncing hill for a few years now. Transporter is doing a end-run around on Dropbox by offering similar functionality with no monthly fees (and using onsite storage). Google is doing a full frontal assault with the price cut. Google is offering 100GB at 75% less than Dropbox at this time.

How does Dropbox respond? One thing they need is a great web presence. Dropbox's web interface is for viewing, organizing, deleting, and viewing. With Google Drive, you can create and edit spreadsheets, presentations, and documents. Dropbox needs to add this feature, but they also need to provide more. What could they do without matching the price?

  1. Add a web based image editor.
  2. Add PDF creation and editing on the web.
  3. Add web based email for all your email (think Mailbox.app for the web).
  4. Buy and integrate a web based "productivity suite".
  5. Shared folders only count against the original creator.

Dropbox likely cannot compete compete with Google on price per GB. Dropbox isn't subsidized by other products nor does it own its own data centers (it's using Amazon S3). It can attempt to be a better value. With the acquisition of Mailbox.app last year, it seems they know that.

As time goes on, I think Steve Jobs was right. Syncing is a feature. What you can do around the syncing is the product.