Dropbox wants to replace your Hard Drive

Dropbox Mobile Phone App Galaxy S4

Everyone knows who Dropbox is but not everyone knows what Dropbox is up to.

Dropbox founders Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi announced their first developers conference called DBX at the San Francisco Fort Mason Center today.  The conference finishes tonight at 5pm; but the Dropbox blog gives us a peak into its future plans to become what I’m calling, the universal hard drive for the world.

Developers know it as The Datastore API which is a new model for syncing data beyond files.  Developers will use Datastores to coordinate file syncs.  Instead of building a sync engine from scratch a developer would simply use a Datastore and have instant access to the Dropbox architecture.  In this respect, the Datastore functions like a plug-in.

One of the advantages of this new model is that it works offline.  For example, when a user steps into the Subway and loses WiFi, the Datastore stores the data locally on the device; then when she steps above ground Dropbox automatically uploads changes and merges differences.

Or let’s say the user can’t afford to pay for in-flight Wi-Fi but still wants to Tweet her friends and view their Facebook news feeds.  With no connectivity her digital world stops stops right?

Dropbox says: Not necessarily.

Aditya Agarwal, VP of Dropbox Engineering, elaborates.  He said that there doesn’t always have to be this dichotomy between being online vs being offline.  In fact, in an interview with Josh Constine from Techcrunch, he shared his thoughts on the subject:

Offline vs online doesn’t have to be binary.  There will always be a spectrum. Offline today will be slow-line tomorrow.

In other words, Dropbox doesn’t just want to make your data available anywhere but also anytime.

That’s the mighty ambition behind the new DataStore API.

If Dropbox can perfect this technology do you think it could have a chance of replacing your hard drive?

Personally, I love my SSD and am generally resistant to change; and amid all the privacy issues going on, I’ll probably be the last one to adopt this nascient technology.   However, Dropbox has over 175 million users which collectively sync more than 1 billion files.  So even if only 1% of those users embrace these changes that’s still 1.8 million happy users; certainly no small sum.

If you want more details, see the Dropbox keynote on the developers site.  The team is scheduled to upload the keynote late tonight or tomorrow morning.


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