January 30, 2013

Is Dropbox the New Social Network on the Block?


With a large number of social networking platforms popping up almost every week, competition is fierce. With social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Flickr, users are connected to friends and family 24/7, sharing every last detail of their lives on the Web. No stranger to the game, Dropbox, a file-sharing platform that lets users organize and share photos, documents, and videos easily, has unveiled a new way for users to share photos.  

Now with the new update, users can create “ad-hoc” photo albums that can be easily shared with friends through Facebook and Twitter. Primarily known for its seamless ability to organize files between different devices, Dropbox’s new feature strays away from its best attribute.

This time, the new photo-sharing feature will keep users’ photo collections separate from existing folders. This will create a more “abstract representation” of users’ data; more specifically, what Dropbox product manager Chris Beckmann describes as “a shift underway at Dropbox from thinking of things as files to thinking of things as users’ content.”

So why the sudden shift in conception? Dropbox’s new feature is an indication that the company is looking at user data in a more sophisticated, intimate way, much like Facebook and Twitter. Already acting as a private network for users, holding personal information such as photos and documents, Dropbox is slowly moving toward becoming a social networking/publishing platform.

Before, the process of sharing multiple photos through e-mail was tedious and frustrating. With its new feature, users can now choose one or more photos and share them in one album via Facebook, Twitter or e-mail. Even better, the photos do not have to live in the same Dropbox folder and can be updated anytime.

“We’re moving away from a filesystem-centric view of your content and to a more content-focused, content-centric view,” says Ramesh Balakrishnan, Dropbox engineering lead for photos. “If I move pictures to a different folder, reorganize my filesystem, rename folders – things that would break right now, when you share stuff out – it will continue to work with these views.”

With the BYOD phenomenon still surging and the explosion of tablets and smartphones, individuals today are typically using more than one mobile device. Dropbox makes it easy for users to treat their data the same across all devices, which proves beneficial for consumers.




Edited by Brooke Neuman



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