Apple Tried to Buy Dropbox, Failed

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Apple wanted to buy DropboxApple saw the potential in the online storage service Dropbox back in 2009 and even tried to swing a deal to buy the company. The founders, Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi, weren’t interested in selling, however, even with Steve Jobs pitching the deal.

During a meeting where Mr. Jobs tried to convince the Dropbox founders to sell, Mr. Houston said they weren’t interested in selling, according to Forbes. Mr. Jobs replied by saying Apple was going after Dropbox’s market and that they “were a feature, not a product.”

With no chance of a deal, Apple proceded on its own and eventually announced iCloud. During the iCloud unveiling, Mr. Jobs knocked online storage services — naming Dropbox specifically — leaving Mr. Houston to respond by saying “Oh, shit.”

Had Mr. Jobs been able to sway Dropbox’s leaders into selling the company, Apple’s online storage offerings would probably look very different today. And the question so many people have asked, “Why doesn’t Apple just buy Dropbox,” finally has an answer.

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Comments

FlipFriddle

I wonder if Tim Cook will give them a second chance, or if it’s too late. Given iCloud and AirDrop, it’s probably too late, but you never know. I do still love me some DropBox.

FlipFriddle

Oops. Double post. Sorry

ibuck

It’s unfortunate for Apple customers, and possibly for Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi, that this acquisition didn’t happen. Users of Leopard and Snow Leopard would probably have had access to cloud services, which iCloud restricts to Lion (at least at present).

Lee Dronick

Users of Leopard and Snow Leopard would probably have had access to cloud services, which iCloud restricts to Lion (at least at present).

Hmmmmm, interesting point. However, I wonder if it Apple’s way of moving people to Lion. Perhaps in the future there will be a dropbox feature in iCloud for files other than iWork, Photos, and other Apple only apps.

Substance

Very interesting.  I don’t think I ever said myself that Apple needed to buy DropBox, they just needed to change iDisk to act like DropBox.

I like the idea of iOS & iCloud as abstracting the file storage layer from the average user.  I haven’t played with iCloud myself, but I can see Apple is already going down that direction and I think there’s a lot of potential there (it works almost without a hitch in iOS for 99% of users).  However there will always be uses where file system access is advantageous, so I’m disappointed that iDisk will be present in iCloud at all.  Feels like a missed opportunity.

One final note, I appreciate the fact that iDisk was built around WebDav whereas DropBox uses a proprietary protocol for access their storage space on the Internet.

dmuzzy

I always thought that Apple should buy DropBox. But now that I see how iCloud is being implemented, I am glad that DropBox will still be around as a stand-alone service.

Unless I am just missing the boat on how iCloud works.

barryotoole

@dmuzzy: “Unless I am just missing the boat on how iCloud works.”

You are correct. ICloud and DropBox have different MOs.

iCloud’s aim is to instantly sync apps across all iOS and OS X devices, without a file system. DropBox, OTOH, syncs individual files, and stores them in a file system that can be accessed from any iOS, OS X, or Windows device. Further, it is able to accept files of any program, like the iDisk, unlike the iCloud that is limited for Apple apps and the OS X Lion.

Hopefully, Apple will include an iDisk in the iCloud, before the MobileMe service is shut down next June.

What I don’t know, and would like to find out, is whether the files of iDisk and/or DropBox are stored locally as well. If so, this will be great if there is no Internet connection.

dmuzzy

@barryotoole: Thanks for the info. I was wondering if I was just missing something with iCloud.

You asked “What I don?t know, and would like to find out, is whether the files of iDisk and/or DropBox are stored locally as well. If so, this will be great if there is no Internet connection”.

I con’t speak to iDisk as I haven’t used it, but DropBox can store files locally, but it requires you to mark the individual files as “Favorites”. When marked as a favorite, the file is downloaded to the iOS device for off-line use. The downside is that you cannot mark entire folders as a favorite. This severely limits the functionality of the feature.

A better solution, imho, is to use an app like Goodreader in conjunction with DropBox. Goodreader lets you sync folders in Dropbox. The folders that are synced are downloaded, contents and all to the iOS device for off-line use. The downside is that Goodreader can’t automatically sync the folders on a schedule. This means that you must click the “sync” button on Goodreaders’ interface.

It’s not a perfect solution (I was hoping iCloud would solve this), but so far it is the best/easiest solution I have found for maintaining synced folders between my computer and iPad.

Cheers.

ps. if anyone has a better way, please let me know.  smile

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