I love Dropbox. But to compete with Google Drive, Dropbox will need to work on promoting collaboration, allowing simultaneous editing, moving away from the idea that one file can only be saved in one folder (like physical objects), and adopting some kind of a tagging system for organization. To compete with Dropbox, however, Google will need to work on simplicity. Though Google analytics is extremely powerful for enhancing user experience, if Google keeps changing its things daily, it drives ordinary users away.
Dropbox vs Google Drive
Round 1. Collaboration & sharing
One of the major advantages of Google Drive over Dropbox lies in its capability of simultaneous editing. The collaborators of a document can see one another typing on the same document; when working on a PowerPoint presentation, the collaborators can also chat with one another and do research on the side.
Another advantage is that Google Drive does not count the shared files not uploaded or synched by you. I work with a team of teachers. One of the main problems with using Dropbox is when new team members don’t have enough space and, therefore, have no access to the materials in the shared folder. Though Dropbox gives you the option to increase your space by inviting people (500MB/user), one has to go through the pain of inviting friends, families, or even students – which just doesn’t seem right. For more on Google Storage, see here
Yet, Dropbox now has a neat feature, which allows users to share files or folders with other users – even if they don’t have a dropbox account – using a web link.
Round 2. Realizing its digital potential
In Dropbox, one file can only be saved into one folder, not multiple folders, which is very much like physical objects. One thing in one place. If multiple users are editing the same file, it will be saved as a “conflicted copy” in the folder – plain ugly. Google, on the other hand, allows users to organize files into multiple folders, which used to be called “collections” in the Google Docs era. The same file can be found in different folders, making it more searchable and better realizing the potential of digital files.
Round 3. Design & Simplicity
Dropbox is definitely the winner here. Despite all the analytics and data mining Google conducted, unless you are a faithful Googler, it’s hard to have the patience to look for the button that you clicked yesterday but has now disappeared. Yesterday, I was able to save files in multiple Google collections, today, “Collections” is called “Folders”. And who would have guessed that, today, if you want to save a file in multiple folder, you can’t just check multiple boxes, but have to hold down the shift or was it control key to do that. No wonder, the angry Steven Jobs (mostly at Android) said that other than Google Search, everything else is shit.
Also, the files you drag to the Google Drive on your desktop can’t be edited on the browser unless you “export the file” by right clicking on the file name and find the option on the browser – another nightmare.
The Google layout, too, is just a lot more complicated, especially with the Google+ Share icon above. Ordinary users just won’t know what they are really sharing. Also, the recently added Grid view is supposed to enhance user experience, but it showcases lots of blurry images that make you dizzy.
The tradeoff here could be that Google has to give up usability for functionalities. The simple Dropbox is much easier and more intuitive due to its resemblance to physical objects. To compete with Drobpox, Google will need to use its analytics wisely – work on your layout before testing it on users. Upgrade your functions without significantly altering the look.