Apple’s release of the iCloud has fanboys and critics alike raving about what that means to both the public and developer community, not to mention what it will spark in the business, retail, and tech sector. For it seems that the iCloud’s sweetest value proposition, outside of it being FREE, is its seamless integration with its current (and future) product line. More appealing for Apple fanboys and tech gurus alike is the fact that Apple’s innovation drives more and more businesses to be more innovative, thus generating more business to the company.

With iCloud, Dropbox has a better, more viable competitor to its business model. iCloud’s free storage – a “whopping” 5GB – is miniscule compared to Dropbox’s 2GB offering. How I think Dropbox can leverage their position – and keep their customers in the process – isn’t so much in how much free storage it can counter with Apple’s. That will be a great start, but that won’t be enough to make things work for them. Brand popularity and business model is already on Apple’s side, so no use competing in that regard. I think that Dropbox will have a better positioning  with Apple in the following areas:

Customer Service

I’m torn on Apple’s customer service and customer development, and it’s not just within their “Genius” bar. The sales associate that sold my iPhone was a rockstar: helpful, informative, engaging, and was definitely not pushy. She listened first to what I needed to have before offering any solutions or products available to provide.

The “Genius” bar on the other hand, was not as helpful nor offered insightful comments to my conversations and my issues. The person hardly kept eye contact, let alone listened carefully to what I needed to have done to my iPod. As a result, I had to reschedule with a different “genius” to settle my grievance, and ended up telling me something different than the previous “genius.”

As one who has worked and managed a retail store, the ability to listen is everything in my book.

The point is that if Apple’s customer service is not their strongest point, then Dropbox should take advantage of that weakness and use it to develop a stronger backbone to their product line.

Customer Relationship Development

I may get some hate mail for this, but I’ll say it anyway: Apple is not the best company that develops customer relationships. I repeat that: Apple is not the best company that develops strong customer relationships.

Let the hate mail and comments begin.

Apple’s product line isn’t necessarily a true indicative of its customer relationships. Yes, their products can be great, and people buy Apple products for whatever “greatness” they find in it. That reasoning doesn’t fully quantify nor qualify that the people buying those products have strong personal relationships with the company. There may be some truth to the greatness of their products, but at times, it just means that the products are great. Simple enough.

For example, I can like a product (iPod, iPhone, iPad) created by the company and not necessarily be infatuated with that company. I’m more interested in the quality of the relationship that people have with the company, not necessarily the product. It’s in this angle that Dropbox can use to leverage their offering from the competition: by increasingly reaching out and strengthening the core customers to develop a healthy and stronger relationship that is long-lasting.

Take Lessons from Google, circa late 1990s

Back in the day, strong search engines that were not named Google were very prominent, while Google stood quietly, strengthening their algorithms, creating clean/modern UIs and used simplicity as their mantra. Standing the test of time, they were able to overcome the big boys to become THE big boy, all the while changing the face of the internet as we see it today.

Dropbox can certainly learn from Google’s business model, especially when faced with bigger competition. Strengthening the core structure with innovative ideas, clean design, better usability, and seamless integration will be needed to keep Dropbox healthy over the long haul.


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