To Top

Dropbox CEO Drew Houston Claims that Apple’s iCloud Service Prevents Consumer Preference


Apple is well-known in tech news, considering that there are nearly five new news stories each day that pertain to the Cupertino, California company. My head start in the tech world some few years ago started with Apple, and my task was to come to know the company that has both friends and critics. I became a friend, but a critical one: I went from discussing all the great aspects about Apple (those that I knew, of course) to talking about all the litigation corruption and lawsuits in which the company found itself. The Apple-Samsung trial did not make me a happy camper either, since, to me, it demonstrated the power of “copyright infringement claims,” whether they are entirely of merit or not.

It is my work on iCloud, however, particularly in researching the case of former Wired Magazine’s Matt Honan, however, that made me see the danger of relying too much on iCloud for document and file storage. I thought iCloud was great — that is, until I saw that the so-called “5GB of free storage” promised by Apple was nothing more than a reduction of my purchased internal memory storage. Instead of providing users with 5GB of free cloud storage that is apart from the memory storage purchased, Apple takes 5GB of storage away from the device storage. If you purchased a 32GB device, you will not have all 32GB of storage; some of it will be removed due to the operating system. As for the so-called free 5GB, it will be deducted from the remaining memory storage. 32GB may turn into 25GB or so after you remove the memory of the OS and iCloud. 5GB will also be eaten quickly, leaving you to pay Apple for a certain amount of additional memory storage annually.

Drew Houston, Dropbox CEO, recently added another disadvantage of relying on Apple’s iCloud. For him, Apple’s iCloud stifles and prevents consumer preference:

“There will never be an engineer in the Apple cafeteria who’s like, hey I made the Android version of iCloud. You shouldn’t have to care about the logo on the back of your phone or computer, it should just work with everything you have. That’s the kind of limitation we want to help remove for people” (Buster Heine, “Dropbox CEO Warns Apple Users Against Getting Locked Into iCloud”).

If you decide to purchase an Android smartphone or tablet in the future, will Apple’s iCloud work with it? No. ICloud will only work with Apple devices. I wrote an article recently titled “Why Microsoft for IPad is a Good Idea,” but I would dare say that iCloud for Android is an excellent idea as well. Before Apple supporters frown on my article and give me 2 or 3 stars for the article (or a “-1,” as one voter rated a recent article), let me explain.

Let’s take Google as an example. Although Google has every reason to dislike Apple (intensely) for how the company goes about its business of being exclusive and barring every other company from its software, Google still produces apps that are approved at the App Store: GMail, Google +, YouTube (despite the fact that Apple kicked YouTube out of iOS6), Google Talk, Google Voice Phone, and even Google Chrome. Even when Apple wanted to “do its own thing” in iOS6, Apple’s Maps Fiasco showed Cupertino that its still got a heck of a lot of work to do with iOS — and Google produced a new YouTube app for iOS anyway. If you are a heavy GMail customer, you can still check your email on iOS; if you want to have unlimited photo storage, you can get it on iOS — and bypass Apple’s iCloud storage in order to do it. ICloud cannot compete with Google’s “Instant Upload” feature and unlimited cloud storage. Google has developed better maps, a social network, and apps that provide services for Google consumers for free — without hassle on iOS. While Google’s actions are different with Microsoft due to the fact that the company claims the Windows OS does not have as much consumer demand, Mountain View has conducted itself in an extremely cordial manner with regard to Apple — its open enemy and adversary.

Has Apple responded in the same manner? No. Instead, Apple has aimed to develop its own social network, cloud storage, and music/video service, without sharing any form of these with Android users. While it is the case that the Google Play Store and iTunes remain distinct (and with strong rationale), what is Apple’s excuse behind maintaining its own iOS exclusive cloud storage? Must it be the case that user files have to be produced on iOS in order for them to be stored, or that games must be developed on iOS in order to experience Apple’s cloud storage? For each “privilege” Apple grants (such as software updates), Google grants the same and then some. Apple’s “kindness” does not match that of Google — no matter how the story is spun.

In recent days, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has been open and honest about his disagreements with Apple. Some five months ago, Wozniak expressed his own disagreements with current Apple policy and his desire for Cupertino’s future:

“When I ran dial-a-joke it was illegal to own, use or purchase your own telephone or answering machine. You couldn’t connect anything to the phone jack except that which you leased from AT&T. You had little choice and there was no room for outside innovators. We techies all said that this was a bad thing. You probably see the parallel.

Let’s look at Apple. Apple’s real rise from the small market-share Macintosh company to the iProducts of today began with iTunes and the iPod…if you remember, we ported iTunes to Windows…so why don’t we port iTunes to Android? Did something get closed up? I love Apple products and iTunes and wish it were on my Android products too” (“Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak Gives Jailbreaking the Thumbs Up, Wishes iTunes Supported Android”).

Apparently, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston shares Wozniak’s objections.

More in Apple