Dropbox wants Enterprises to store their content in Dropbox. Box wants it in Box. Egnyte, Accellion, Syncplicity … you get the picture. They all want to be your provider as well.
And Microsoft has something to lose if it lets that happen. And it’s not the dollars (you pay for services on the aforementioned vendors’ clouds as units of storage) that these other companies could potentially earn.
The world’s largest software company needs you to keep living and working in its products, like Office and SharePoint, which you wouldn’t have to do if you stored your stuff on these other clouds.
How Bad Does It Want It?
Today Microsoft announced that Microsoft Office 365 subscribers (Home, Personal, or University) can now store 1 terabyte of information on their cloud for free.
In April it announced all One Drive for Business customers could store 1 terabyte without incurring extra charges as well.
What this amounts to, for most of us, on a personal level, is that as long as we keep using (and paying for) Microsoft products like Office 365, then we’ll have access to more storage than we’ll ever need.
Given that, the personal/home/student subscription might not seem all that expensive at all. (Microsoft Office 365 with 1 terabyte of storage costs $6.99 a month.)
But if you think this latest announcement isn’t aimed at the Enterprise, think again.
After all, consider how Dropbox and Box win over business customers. They first get them to use their File Sync and Share solutions as individuals, free of charge. Once they win over enough individual users in a company, they knock on the CIO’s door and offer them Enterprise editions.
Most consider it to be an easy sell because cloud storage is becoming a must and user acceptance is bound to be high, given that it’s the workers who brought it into the workplace.
Microsoft Has the CIO’s Endorsement
But Microsoft tools are already in the workplace, and the company management and business partners have already blessed it. And now that storage on its cloud, for the most part, is free to Office 365 subscribers, then there are fewer reasons to switch or stay with Dropbox, Box or any of the others.
While the competition will say it offers superior services, the “show me” hurdle will be difficult to clear.
After all, it’s not hard, even for me, to hit the “you must pay” wall with these other services. When that happens, what’s a small business user, consumer, or student to do but switch to a service that will provide more for free? And while the consumerization of IT means choice, if I begin to store my content in One Drive in my personal life, chances are I’ll want to use it at work as well.
Microsoft is, in a sense, solving the “Dropbox problem” because it’s eliminating Dropbox from the equation.
As for students who grow up with Office or Office 365 ($79.99 for four years) in school and in college, they’ll be far less likely to search for an alternate EFSS solution at all. The most photographed generation on the planet has plenty of pictures and if they can store them all on One Drive (because they probably use Office already), without spending an extra dime, that’s where they’ll want to live. (And, by the way, OneDrive users who want nothing to do with Office 365 and have 15 GB’s free of charge.)
That’s worth mentioning because as the next generation enters the workplace, they’ll use the tools they use most often and know best. And if Microsoft is successful, it will be the window through which work gets done.
It’s no wonder Box went after the educational marketplace.
Did Dropbox Just Lose its Advantage?
As for Dropbox and its 300 million users, they don’t hold a candle to Microsoft’s billions. And though the company’s CEO, Drew Houston, says he’ll add services rather than lower storage prices, the jury’s out as to whether they’ll lose market share.
All of that being said, the Enterprise File Sync and Share market is wide open and Microsoft, with its big bucks, big cloud, and Enterprise know-how, can go to great lengths to keep you as a customer without as much effort as any of its competitors.
Besides it’s not really EFSS services that Microsoft wants to sell you anyways. It’s about getting you, and keeping you busy on Office 365, so that it can sell you services around it.
The sleeping giant has finally woken up not only with its might, but its brains.