Is the Future About Collaboration?

Posted by ownCloud GmbH – 24. September 2015

Today I noticed this article at The Verge.

I usually don’t talk too much about other players in the file sync and share market. But this article raised a few interesting points about the market and where we are going.

I agree with the statement that the future is collaboration. So file sync and share will expand in new areas and has to include communication and collaboration features. Only syncing and sharing files won’t be enough anymore. It’s great to make files and folder available to other people inside or outside your organization, but users expect richer functionality then just a folder that suddenly appears on their desktop.  This is why most file sync and share solutions out there invest heavily in collaboration features.

Dropbox is a bit strange because they acquired companies to do email, photo management and more but failed in integrating these features into the core product. It’s hard to say why.  But even with well integrated communication and collaboration features, they are still not a full platform. A platform, at least in my definition, requires that 3rd party developers and companies build additional functionalities on top of the core platform. Dropbox and others have some public REST APIs to do integration but this is very limited. At ownCloud we have this concept of “apps” that can run on the same server, on top of ownCloud, to enhance it with additional features and functions. These apps can implement new user management features, external storage integration, communications, editing, workflow or other complex features.  This is very flexible and powerful. This is critical to transform file sync and share into a full collaboration solution and yes, a real platform.

Another interesting point is that Dropbox still tries to sell storage to their users. This is a concept that worked well in the past. But now other players with business models like Google or Microsoft are giving away storage for close to nothing. Companies like Dropbox and Box will suffer from this race to the bottom in the near future.  Additionally, I never met an IT manager or end user who really wanted to buy storage from Dropbox, Box, Google or others. They want to have the file sync and share functionalities but have no interest in buying relatively expensive Gigabytes. Often they already have storage or a pretty clear idea of how they want to manage their storage needs in the future. We at ownCloud always focused on giving our customers what they really want. The ability to do file sync and share and communicate and collaborate–without forcing them to migrate their storage or user accounts or other infrastructure to a new system only because they want file sharing capabilities.

It’s hard to predict what the file sync and share market will look like in the future. But I think one thing is for sure. The solution which provides the most flexibility, best platform and gives the customers what they really want will have a huge competitive advantage. And this is ownCloud.


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