Data sharing and data transferring started from the early punch cards to floppy disks and now has reached the stage where users have virtual cloud storage (Reddy, Prasad, Yeshamoni, & Palanati, 2011). With all this hype about cloud; the portable, physical USB seems to be left behind. Just as floppy disks ran out of business when compact disks came as a breakthrough innovation, USBs will eventually lose their commonness as well (Looper, 2015). With rapidly emerging cloud storages like Dropbox and Google Drive and the competition between them, companies should have a USP that appeals to the customers. For now, companies are competing on low prices and increased storage to free users. But they cannot cut prices to lower than their costs, when innovative new ideas serve as the USP and create customer value (Peacock, 2015).
Nowadays, companies are trying to develop user-friendly interfaces to ease technology use for their consumers, and the aim of this report is to propose the same (Hautala, 2014). From a general interview conducted with three university students, two problems were found. First, students access multiple data sources for their assignments and use the Dropbox to keep it all stored. But searching the files first, downloading them and then uploading it to Dropbox consumes a lot of time. Secondly, uploading large sized files can also be a problem for busy students having time constraints.
For the first problem, a solution is proposed to allow users to search for things while logged into dropbox and download the searched items into Dropbox directly. The initial idea came when it was seen that Google allows users to stay logged in and search for the data they require. However, even Google drive does not provide direct upload to the cloud storage from the internet (Hautala, 2014).
Torrent services give the facility to resume downloads. The idea proposed is to use this 'torrent' concept for cloud storage being the user's virtual torrent application. The direct upload from the internet starts when the user opens it next from any other device (Mitroff, 2014). Just like Torrent continues resumes its downloads, dropbox can start uploading files as soon as it gets signed in again from any other device with the data coming from the internet. This will allow less time to be consumed in waiting for the files to upload, and as the web is accessible from all over the world, this idea can be used to save time.
The main target market for cloud services is corporations and its workers who have to share data on the minute (Hagel & Brown, 2014). This idea caters to all those individuals who are on the go, be it corporate workers or students. Products are presented as a solution to consumer problems. The solution of a consumer problem can be a company’s USP making this idea attractive to the competition among cloud storage companies (Bradshaw, 2013).
In order to measure the demands of the consumers, a more thorough market analysis will be required. This analysis will bring forward the problems they face in downloading, editing and then uploading documents and whether the time consumed in this activity does affect their work or not (Spradlin, 2012). Dropbox does have a resume facility, but it cannot be resumed wherever Dropbox is logged in the reason being that uploads are only limited to device storage and not over the internet. If direct internet uploading is allowed, large uploads can be resumed from anywhere where there is internet access (Dropbox, 2015). Therefore, the market exists for those consumers that have heavy upload files, just that they cannot resume it from any device.
According to the figures by the European Commission, one in ten cloud users used software to edit documents rather than the hassle of downloading, editing and uploading the documents again (Seybert & Reinecke, 2014). It can be analyzed through the growing speed of cloud storage use that this figure will increase. Dropbox should add the direct download and direct edit feature in order to remain competitive and provide simple solutions to consumer problems.
There is an opportunity cost for every minute of time spent. Therefore in order to increase the value delivered to customers, companies should see time as a scarce resource (Caimi, Brahm, & Mankins, 2014). Corporate workers and busy students are the main target audience for this service. The reason being that they are the ones whose time has a good opportunity cost. Customers need ease and simplicity and creating value for the customers’ means receiving value in return. For now, there is not any solution to this problem of time-consumption and ease of upload, which is why the demand has to be fulfilled before the demand is felt and raised by the customers in order to get the first mover advantage (Spradlin, 2012).
Dropbox had a $200 million profit in 2013 (Kepes, 2014). This profit is a result of user subscription to increased cloud storage. The 'cloud wars' have resulted in companies decreasing their prices, and Dropbox, instead of decreasing its prices and compromising on its profits, could add value-added services in order to satisfy the consumers (Peacock, 2015). This will decrease the risk of an increase in price due to value-added service and ensure the profits. However, utilizing primary sources for the market research is highly important due to the risks attached to, not doing it. Secondary research also serves as a valuable source, but it is not collected for the problem at hand and can be misleading especially for a new idea (Heyman, 2014).
Dropbox has provided customers with value added features that make it the market leader in cloud storage, ahead of Google drive and Microsoft. It would stands ahead of them even if it came into the market just six years ago. It claims 300 million users, more than either drive or Microsoft (Griffith, 2014). They attract customers through the value of their services, and that is what is unique to the Dropbox brand. It acquired companies like Zulip, Sold, Mailbox, Endorse and PiCloud. In order to continue to diversify its services, it acquired readmill, which gives users the advantage of reading and suggesting books to fellow Dropbox users (Tse, 2014).
In a comparison to other cloud service providers, it was seen that Dropbox provides lesser free storage as compared to its competitors. The paid plans are cheaper than others when compared to the same unit, but more storage provided; whereas OneDrive and Google Drive have fewer storage options too at a smaller rate (Mitroff, 2014). Since Dropbox targets companies, there would be no point in giving them insufficient storage options.
The option proposed for searching items with Dropbox logged in is not comparable to the data with Google, and this can serve as a barrier. However, with Dropbox's increased amount of acquisitions and partnerships including partnership with its competitor in cloud storage, Microsoft, Dropbox can compete its way to allowing searching and direct download options to its customers (Bort, 2014)
In order to turn hypothesized suggestions into real business services, it is important that the customers be surveyed first. An analysis of the insight from the target market will get Dropbox an idea how workable this concept might be. The feasibility depends on Dropbox's ability to license intellectual property or partner with other organizations like it has done so in the past. With Microsoft's partnership for now, users are allowed to download attachments, files and documents directly from the office emails to Dropbox (Bort, 2014). Partnering with Microsoft's office could enable users to edit their documents without having to download them, edit them and then upload them again. The proposed torrent idea can be enabled if Dropbox partners with YouTube, Dailymotion or other video sites to facilitate direct download from the internet. These downloads cannot then be resumed from anywhere in the world just by logging in. The profitability lies in increased user base. Because of tight competition, it is not a viable option to increase rates for new services. However, this can be used to attract more consumers and to provide an alternate to decreasing prices in the 'cloud wars' (Peacock, 2015).
The risks faced would be user demand for decreased prices. Even if this option is a value-addition, some businesses or the targeted students would not feel the need for such services, which is why a thorough market survey recommend to reduce the risks to a minimal. The option of test marketing or providing the service free for some time would also be a determinant of the market demand for the service (Hautala, 2014).
The problems identified in this research can be summarized as time-constraints. Products exist in the markets for providing solutions to problems, which is why it was suggested that dropbox allow direct downloading of files and facilitate editing without downloading files. Another recommendation was made on the upload problems faced by the customers. Dropbox already came up with a solution to this by allowing resuming of upload, but it is restricted to one device only because of the restriction of the file being available on only the same device. However, to remove these limitations, the direct download feature can be combined with this to get easy uploads from any device because the file would be downloading from the internet removing the file availability limitation as well. These initial recommendations combined with assessed factors gave way to a complete business model for Dropbox.
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