Apple today announced the release of iCloud, the online storage service that replaces MobileMe. iCloud has a number of competitors to deal with but biggest of all is Dropbox for Windows and Mac. While iCloud may certainly be a wake up call to Dropbox which hasn’t seen much innovation in recent years, it’s unlikely to replace it anytime soon. Here are some reasons why:
- Dropbox is truly cross platform
Dropbox will remain by far the easiest way to share files across platforms whether you’re on Windows, Mac, Android or Linux. The only mobile platform it doesn’t work with is Symbian and there’s even a client to fix that. iCloud meanwhile is restricted to mainly Apple devices such as Macs, iPhones and iPads. PCs are supported (although Windows XP isn’t). Basically, if you don’t have an Apple ID , then iCloud will be inaccessible to you.
- Dropbox is more flexible
Dropbox can store anything you throw at it. iCloud on the other hand is much more application based and backups/syncing will rely on developers adding support for it in their apps. This is great for Mac users that use official Apple products such as iTunes and iPhoto etc but not no good for those that rely on third party apps that don’t add iCloud support. Even though the free version of iCloud offers 5GB of free space compared to 2GB on Dropbox, you can’t do as much with it.
- iCloud isn’t a backup solution
iCloud is fine for syncing but not for backups – at least not for photos. At the moment, iCloud only allows photos to be stored for up to 30 days. Dropbox allows you to store your files for as long as you want or maintain your account. Apple may change this if they realize it’s a deal breaker for many users but until then, iCloud will be seen more as a syncing tool than a backup one.
Like MobileMe, it goes without saying that iCloud is likely to be a big hit with those who rely only on Apple products. It may also be popular with iTunes users that want to sync their music, calendar and address book with the cloud but nothing else. Dropbox may lose users of its professional version as people opt to use iCloud for music, and use the free version of Dropbox for general storage.
Whatever happens, iCloud should at least motivate Dropbox to improve its product and that can only be good news for its users.