Cloud storage service Dropbox this week announced its newest offering for group collaboration, Dropbox for Teams. It works just like the regular service, where updating one file in a Dropbox folder on one computer automatically synchronizes across all computers that have Dropbox installed.
Now that Dropbox, based in San Francisco, has finally added an option for team accounts, it's now on equal footing with Box.net, another big-time online file synchronization service based in Palo Alto, Calif. Here's how the two stack up.
Free Space: Dropbox offers 2 GB of free storage space for any user, while Box.net provides 5 GB of free storage.
File Restrictions: Dropbox spokesperson Rachel Shaffer says Dropbox has no file size limit, but files of course must be smaller than the size of your Dropbox account's storage quota. Each file uploaded through the website has a 300 MB cap, but that's a pretty high ceiling for each individual file. Box.net, on the other hand, limits free users to uploading files smaller than 25 MB, while users with the 25 GB or 50 GB upgrade are limited to 1 GB per file upload.
Upgrade Options: Dropbox users have the option to upgrade to Pro 50 or Pro 100, which offers users another 50 GB and 100 GB of space, respectively. The Pro 50 plan is $9.99 a month, while the Pro 100 costs $19.99. Box.net has the same price points but for half the space. Box.net charges $9.99 a month for 25 GB and $19.99 for 50 GB.
Team Collaboration: For $795 a year, Dropbox for Teams provides 1,000 GB of storage for five users; each additional member costs an extra $125, but Dropbox doles out an extra 200 GB for good measure. The company is also flexible, claiming it will work with customers to increase their quota should they need additional space. Box.net's business offering can accommodate anywhere between 3 to 500 people, and provides 500 GB of Web storage. Box.net charges $15 per user a month, so for five people, Box will charge $900 a year. Each additional user adds on another $180l, so Dropbox is the clear winner in pricing.
Mobile Access: Both Dropbox and Box.net are available on the iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, and Android phones and tablets, and both companies also have many mobile app partnerships from which to access their services. Box.net currently supports 120 applications, including those for recording and saving audio files, creating Word and Excel files and uploading photos and slideshows. Dropbox also has several app partners, such as PlainText and Notational Velocity, but the company has shut down its Dropbox App Directory indefinitely to build a cooler way to show you the best Dropbox-enabled apps. Box.net wins for having its ducks in a row.
Enhanced Features: Both Dropbox and Box.net have very similar features for administration, security and collaboration. Both services offer encrypted storage and data transfer, dedicated phone support, unlimited version history for all files and the ability to put team accounts on a single bill, but Box.net has some added goodies, including integration with Google Apps and Salesforce.com, the San Francisco-based enterprise cloud company.
Conclusion: The rise of Dropbox and Box.net, two fast up-and-coming cloud services, signifies a changing of the guard from traditional tech companies, such as Microsoft and Oracle.
Dropbox is the clear winner for individuals and small companies. Dropbox is a cheaper option overall, from individual use to team collaboration, and the company does not restrict file limits beyond what the user purchases. Two gigabytes of free storage is often more than enough space to fit the typical user's documents and data, but optional upgrades give users twice the space for the same price as Box.net.
Dropbox, which was once the apple of Steve Jobs' eye, has also signed deals with HTC and six other phone makers, and is ready to move into PCs and TVs.
Devices are getting smarter---your television, your car----and that means more data spread around, said Dropbox founder Drew Houston. There needs to be a fabric that connects all these devices. That's what we do.
While Box.net provides its free users with 3 GB more space, this scalable and customizable cloud service is clearly designed for enterprise-sized companies with multiple offices. In fact, marquee companies including Dell, Microsoft's Skype, Panasonic, MTV and Hearst are Box.net customers.
Box.net's most exciting project in development is the Box Innovation Network (/bin), which is designed to create an ecosystem for enterprise and mobile applications. The company already has a handful of partner applications, but the company is vying to knock off the old guards in cloud computing.
We need to provide an amazing experience for the 100,000 businesses already using Box, including 77 percent of the Fortune 500, while growing our global user base at an unprecedented pace, said Box.net co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie. We need to invest aggressively in scaling our team and infrastructure, two things that will always require significant capital, when done correctly.
Dropbox has 150 million users and is on track to post revenue of $240 million in 2011. Box.net has 7 million users and raised $162 in funding to date, including funds from Goldman Sachs, Greylock and Bessemer Ventures, earning a valuation above $600 million.