Dropbox CEO criticizes iCloud

Houston called out iCloud’s “bizarre limitations,” saying that no iPhone or iPad user can easily share iCloud documents with an Android device.

I see iCloud and Dropbox as different types of services — maybe they shouldn’t be, but I think they are. There are plenty of things I could say that iCloud does better than Dropbox, but it wouldn’t make sense to do so. Just like this doesn’t make sense in a some ways.



  • to

    iCloud sucks big time.

    • http://twitter.com/avbelow avbelow

      That may be true, but I agree with Jim here: They are different products for different use cases

      • albertkinng

        iCloud is a different product but it’s marketing sales pitch is like Dropbox and that’s what confuse users.

  • incendiary-round

    There are problems with iCloud’s reliability and speed, but comparing it’s inability to share files in the same way Dropbox does is missing the point completely.

    On the other hand, it’s a smart move for Houston to call attention to such differences and try and exploit them as a competitive advantage when he knows iCloud was never intended to work exactly like Dropbox.

  • jwoodgett

    It’s possible some of the restrictions in iCloud are to do with the rights management of media (e.g. iTunes bought music, iTunes match, etc). You can’t have it both ways unfortunately. DropBox doesn’t need to keep the media content companies happy.

    • albertkinng

      Apple neither… If you look at the picture from the distance you realized that Apple just want to play nice with others just to get what they want in the long run. As Steve Jobs said in that unencrypted DRM (Mp3/AAC files) letter: “I hate DRM but some people feel happy with it” that’s pretty much self explanatory.

  • http://twitter.com/ballbaring Justin

    shrug does dropbox /want/ iCloud to compete with them more directly? if not, who cares?

    i see them as different entities… i use iCloud for syncing and backing up my iphone/ipad, and dropbox for everything else.

    • http://twitter.com/jonsiddle jon siddle

      That’s exactly how I see the iCloud vs. Dropbox.

  • http://twitter.com/Awax Awax

    iCloud is a VERY broad markerting term for manyyyy different things:

    • free email account with push notification

    • contacts and calendar with push update

    • being able to redownload previously purchased media content from iTunes

    • document syncing between devices

    • Core Data syncing

    Some parts works great, some parts works ok and some parts are toasted.

  • albertkinng

    Well… I need to be honest and open here. iCloud just work for Apple ecosystem but not for real life. This is what I called “Real Life” My Parents use Android devices, my wife owns an iPhone 4s but uses a Chromebook Series 5, My sister use an iPhone 4s but her husband and son uses Android devices. If I were using just iCloud I couldn’t share or use files between family members at all. That’s reason number 1, reason number 2: I don’t want to store anything in my iPhone 5, I just want my apps there… That’s all and with iCloud that is impossible so What do I do? Check it out:

    I have installed in my iPhone 5 these apps:

    1) Google Drive

    2) Web Albums

    3) gMusic

    4) Google Maps

    5) gTalk

    6) Google Voice

    7) Chrome Web Browser

    8) Youtube

    9) Google Plus app

    10) Google Search

    The Best of both worlds. The best Apple product and the Best Google Services in one device. Sharable documents for my co workers with Google Drive, Family picture albums sharable with Web Albums (Picasa app that replaces Photos) gTalk to chat with non Apple users on their PCs, gMusic for all my personal tracks on Google Music and Google search because in the long run it doesn’t make any jokes but is fast and accurate when I ask for information an anything. No offense intended to Siri fans.

    Ilove my iPhone 5 and I own a Mac Mini 2013, a 2007 iMac, an iPad 2 and an iPod touch 3rd generation. Also an Apple TV and a bunch of old Apple products that refuse to die like my Powerbook G4 12 inches running Leopard… Yep.

    Google let me share and have my docs online in their cloud way better than Apple that’s all. Don’t hate me just because I love their service. I wish my whole family and friends own Apple devices and we all share files just with iCloud but that’s not the case.

    • http://www.facebook.com/drew.pitchford1 Drew Pitchford

      I don’t look at iCloud as being a medium to share stuff with other people. It’s for keeping all of MY content on all of MY devices without having to manually sync anything. If I want to share stuff with others, I email, dropbox, print it out.

      • albertkinng

        Ok. Understand the way iCloud works first. Photostream is part of iCloud features and it is for sharing with others as an example of what you think is not. My documents are saved in Google’s Cloud as your documents are saved in Apple’s cloud, the difference is I can link to anyone (windows, android, ubuntu, Mac and iOS users) and you don’t. When you work on a company that colaborate with others this is a must and when is easier to share a link with family sending an email iCloud doesn’t help at all. This is not an attack to your opinion is just an explanation about differences because it seems you didn’t realized iCloud is also for sharing. I got more examples of sharing if you want to keep arguing the contrary.

        Good day!

        • http://www.facebook.com/drew.pitchford1 Drew Pitchford

          No, I get that iCloud has some sharing features built in (I use shared photostream like crazy), but that is not really iCloud’s main purpose (as it is right now). And so, it is not fair to compare it to Dropbox (as Jim points out).

        • Shane77

          Apple had that years ago, it was called MobileMe and it worked great. They decided they don’t want to be in that business, so quit complaining and use Dropbox or whatever. What’s the problem?

  • http://twitter.com/CoreyTamas Joel In Real Life

    I’m pretty familiar with both services and how they work. Each has their advantages and disadvantages, but I can say that Dropbox has my trust, is easy to understand, and is platform agnostic. I can’t say the same about iCloud. I could easily live without iCloud, but not Dropbox. Not as they currently exist.

  • http://twitter.com/derricks768 Derrick S

    Jim, your reality distortion field clouds your vision. It’s a simple equation: Dropbox allows you to share files with both iOS and Android users, iCloud allows you to share files with only iOS users. That’s a deficiency, why can’t you just admit that? iCloud is a bust, Steve Jobs always knew it and it never turned out to be what he wanted it to be (he wanted it to be Dropbox, but Dropbox didn’t budge on being purchased and that’s a good thing). iCloud is an incredibly light service, in typical Apple fashion where options are limited.

    The most depressing thing is when they took away MobileMe’s ability to store files and host a website. But they replaced it with the ability to share your photostream pictures with friends and family so I guess it wasn’t a total loss….HAHAHA!!

    Jim, you have too much invested in Apple stock to speak the truth, and I respect that.

  • http://twitter.com/DumaStudetto Duma Studetto

    They are definitely different.

    Dropbox is insanely useful to me with excellent cross-platform while iCloud does an okay job doing backups and syncing an increasingly limited amount of data I want across iOS devices.

    I gladly pay for the Dropbox premium service while iCloud is worth about what I pay for it: $0.

    I at least admire Apple’s approach for focusing on what they are good at – building for their own platform. Microsoft has Skydrive and man are their apps and experiences appalling on iOS and Android devices. They have held back an iOS update for Skydrive that addresses persistent crashing because reportedly it’s more important to them to argue over Apple’s revenue cut from an Office for iOS product. And the Skydrive Android app is an bigger joke – slow, buggy and even more crashtastic than the iOS counterpart.

    Dropbox is a million miles ahead of the competition.

  • dustinwilson

    iCloud and Dropbox are different services, but they’re not for entirely different purposes all the time. iCloud syncs calendars, contacts, etc., but it also stores documents for you just like Dropbox does. That’s where iCloud and Dropbox compete. Outside of storing contacts and backups iCloud just simply sucks. Even for backups it kind of sucks because they don’t offer you enough storage to save much of anything in especially considering our iPhones generate quite high resolution photographs and videos that would be quite nice to have backed up.

    And when it comes to storing documents he’s quite right. iCloud has some bizarre limitations on those — including sharing those files. Apple doesn’t seem to understand people tend to use more than 1 application for a particular type of file and they don’t seem to understand people collaborate as well. Apple seems to think people are absolutely confused by the filesystem. People aren’t confused by the filesystem. They’re scared of deleting files accidentally; they’re scared of deleting system files and breaking the computer; and they’re scared of saving things where they can’t find them. If you take those problems away by having essentially a chrooted folder that files can’t be saved outside of, where system files don’t exist in, a search feature to find files quickly, and which keeps previously saved versions you have something easy to use for people. Guess what? That’s Dropbox.

    Dropbox isn’t perfect. They can’t really make it as user friendly as it needs to be for normal users on traditional computers because they can’t make people not save outside the folder, but it can become the place to save files for people. Also to make it more friendly for normal users regardless of platform they need to make accessing previous file versions less of a pain.

    • rj

      I’ve seen the “normal users can’t understand filesystems” problem enough to know that exists, but like you, I think its overstated. Users definitely get confused by all the places that OS X and Windows present in a standard file dialog – My Documents, Desktop, My Computer, Applications, C:, etc. But that doesn’t mean they can’t understand a simple hierarchy with a single root (particularly one that they created). I think most users understand the concept of mail folders, for example.

      Its all well and good to talk about the end of user-visible filesystems, but what’s the alternative? iCloud is simple, but (as it exists today) its far too simple to be a real replacement – there are too many important use cases it simply doesn’t address. Like, for example, the small matters of inter-user and inter-app sharing.

  • http://robert-agthe.de Robert Agthe

    iCloud is more like a Product you can sell. Everything is stripped away. You dont need to hit save or sort folders. It´s from the future. People aren´t ready for it yet. They want folders and all the annoying stuff + they want folders to share. Dropbox is more like a workaround or a tool that builds a bridge over the current file system limitations. iCloud tries to get rid of the file system. dropbox tries to work with it. i´m using dropbox & icloud now. more dropbox then icloud but i really see a bright future for icloud. it needs some work and it has some flaws, but it´s should get fixed with the next iterations of iOS & OSX.