By Shirley Siluk / Data Storage Today. Updated August 27, 2014.
In the wake of rapidly declining prices for cloud-based data storage, Dropbox said Wednesday it was consolidating several of its previous plans into one priced at $9.99 per month. The new Pro plan offers 1 terabyte of storage space and also features a host of new security tools.
The new pricing puts Dropbox's offering in line with similar plans offered by Google and Microsoft. Google Drive provides users with up to 15 gigabytes of storage for free, and announced this past March that it would charge $9.99 per month for 1 terabyte of storage. Microsoft followed suit in June, when it, too, revised its prices and plans for OneDrive cloud storage.
Announced in a Dropbox blog post by head of product ChenLi Wang, the new Pro offering also features a remote wipe option for lost or stolen devices, and several new sharing controls. Those new controls include passwords and expirations for shared links, and an option for view-only permissions for shared folders.
Storage 'Racing to Zero'
Cloud storage is "eating the world alive," another member of the cloud-based storage industry wrote in a recent analysis at TechCrunch. Alex Teu, vice president of business development at a storage company called Oxygen Cloud, said that in just a few short years, the industry has gone from one in which Amazon "was the only real game in town" to one where numerous players were competing in a market that saw cloud storage prices dropping to around 2-1/2 cents per gigabyte.
We reached out to Teu to ask how he sees the industry evolving in the wake of the latest announcement from Dropbox.
"Cloud storage is indeed racing to zero," Teu told us. "The traditional storage players are realizing it's no longer enough to just offer storage."
With storage prices at commodity levels, cloud companies looking to compete will have to start providing a variety of other services, Teu said, pointing to Dropbox's new security-focused features as an example.
"What's interesting is Dropbox is also recognizing this with its acquisitions," he said. "They realize it's just not about storage anymore."
Dropbox acquired four companies in March and April of this year alone. Those new properties include Zulip (messaging), Readmill (e-books), HackPad (collaboration) and Loom (cloud-based photo sharing)..
'Huge Victory for Users'
Such acquisition activity and the ongoing price wars ultimately benefit customers in the cloud storage market, Teu said.
"This is a huge victory for users," he said.
Teu added he knew of "at least 50 different companies" that already offer free cloud-based storage for users. In a market like that, providers will have to layer on additional services to "provide more and different value."
Teu said his own company had been beta-testing an offering called odrive that would allow users to access a variety of cloud-based services via a single folder on their desktops. Described as a "Dropbox to everything," odrive currently supports Google Drive, OneDrive, Facebook and Instagram and is expected to add support for Dropbox and Gmail next.
"With cloud providers making storage ubiquitous and freely available, users are now faced with the decision and perhaps confusion of how to take advantage of all this storage," Teu said.