Dropbox announced in a 22 megabyte blog post that they are launching a new Electron-powered client with a bunch of whiz-bang features and which uses dumb amounts of resources. Michael Tsai collected some commentary about it and also the price increase that they announced last week.
All of this is starting to remind me of my ISP, which is not a great sign:
I loathe my ISP.
There is no easy way to increase prices, but there are plenty of wrong ways, and this feels like one of them. Dropbox used the old trick of adding a few features to justify a dramatic cost increase, to force a choice between a stripped-down plan and one that’s overkill for many individual users’ needs.
My ISP does the same thing: you can get a pathetic 15 Mbps connection for $82 per month — eighty-two dollars per month, in 2019, for speeds that would be embarrassing on a DSL line ten years ago — or a 100 Mbps connection for $92 per month. That’s not really a choice, of course — it’s a way to get a minimum of another $120 per year from every customer.
In much the same way, Dropbox offers users the choice between their free plan — with just 2 gigabytes of storage and syncing between only three devices — or their 2 terabyte Plus plan, which costs nearly $160 per year in Canada. Will you be having the Dom Perignon tonight or a glass of mop water?
For my use, Dropbox is practically a utility. I sync some folders and share a few of them with friends. The individual users I know treat it similarly. Steve Jobs may have been overly flippant when he described Dropbox as a feature, but I don’t think he was that far off. A syncing service, much like an internet connection, is supremely useful, but not inherently interesting. My ISP tries to pretend that it’s a high-tech company by, for example, marketing its rebranded mesh WiFi routers, but I just want to pay them as little money as I can every month to have an adequate and reliable internet connection. I think of Dropbox similarly: let me pay a reasonable amount of money to sync stuff between my devices.
I suppose Dropbox’s new client is indicative of their increased emphasis on enterprise customers. It sure seems like they’re more eager to compete with Slack and Microsoft than they are to provide syncing tools to individual customers. I’ll respond accordingly by making sure no files or apps I rely upon are dependent on Dropbox.