Dropbox! Stop Fighting Email and Learn Aikido!
Dropbox closes Mailbox. Right move, wrong strategy.
Dropbox publicly announced their shutting down Mailbox, an app they purchased a few years back for a cool $100M. This has prompted a number of discussions in the tech media and blogosphere. One excellent contribution appeared in Inc., in an article where the author, John Brandon, explains the possible rationale behind Dropbox’s decision. Heavily summarizing, Dropbox has given up on the notion of leveraging email and is now aiming to supplant it with a collaborative document tool they’ve created called Paper. In John’s words, “The goal is to reduce or even eliminate email."
John may very well be correct about Dropbox’s strategy. We were at the Dropbox Open event when they presented Paper. Alex remembers thinking, "what a waste of time". But after reading John’s analysis with how Paper might fit into a broader, collaboration strategy, it made sense. Thank you John!
Killing Email - Really?
But if Dropbox has truly turned its back on email, then it not only has missed a huge strategic opportunity but walked into one of the Silicon Valley’s most common mistakes, namely, email hunting. All the more sad given Dropbox's wonderful trajectory and impressive, albeit tenuous, $10B valuation.
Picking a fight with email has become somewhat of a seasonal hunting event. Every now and again a company comes out with its intent to “kill email”. The email killer graveyard isn’t more full because better companies are quick to pivot when they realize the futility of their initial aims. Highly celebrated Slack is in this category. Attempting to replace email has always been an uphill battle in part because old habits die hard and the habits of 2.5 billion email users die 2.5 billion times harder. Email is so much a part of the Internet that its closer to electricity than to Facebook. If your aim is to replace email, you might just try to replace the network wiring too.
Despite the highly probable longevity of email, it is not the best tool for collaboration, especially if that collaboration involves files. Having to sort through a bunch of paper clips only makes file collaboration much worse. We all know what it’s like to search for a file in email like it’s a needle in a haystack. The fact that so many companies are trying to replace email is testament enough that says “We have a problem. :()” So there is an over ripe opportunity for a new paradigm of modern work that goes beyond email. We happen to believe that cloud storage and tools built on top of cloud storage are the best opportunity yet at a new world order for collaboration. The challenge remains, how to take on the goliath of email?
"Dropbox should use the 'weight' of email against itself. Mailbox and its integration of Dropbox was the right idea but the wrong execution."
According to Wikipedia, Aikido is a martial art that redirects the momentum of an opponent’s attack against the attacker. The challenge that Dropbox is taking on, namely, replacing email, would be far easier and efficiently overcome not by confronting email as many others have tried and failed to do (like Google, remember Wave?), but by leveraging the principals of Aikido and using email to drive Dropbox adoption. In other words, Dropbox should use the “weight” of email against itself. Mailbox and its integration of Dropbox was the right idea but the wrong execution. As in any martial art, technique is critical. Mailbox, an email client, still required user adoption and attacking Email's adoption is like trying to trip the wrong leg. One true Aikido move on email would be to automatically replace email attachments with Dropbox links in a way that is completely transparent to the end user and works across every device without new software. In this way solving user challenges with email file size limitations, attachment organization and version control while automatically transitioning email workflow to Dropbox workflow. Companies, like mxHero, offer technology that provides the seamless linkages needed between cloud storage and email. These technologies act as a transition mechanism from legacy email to the cloud by inextricably integrating cloud storage into the email experience. Like in the last Matrix movie, Matrix Revolutions, when Neo finishes off agent Smith by jumping into Smith’s body and defeating him from the inside as a powerful, emanating light - so does this strategy replace email, not by assaulting its massive walls, but by attacking from within.
The mantle of work place collaboration will one day pass from email to some other cloud based collaborative technology - that is certain. What is not certain, how many more tombstones will we need to place until then?
mxHero is a leading developer of email to cloud storage technology. mxHero’s products and services gives companies, service providers and end users powerful new ways to control, use and analyze email. Apps developed for mxHero’s platform work with any email management program, including Gmail and Microsoft Exchange. Information on all of their Mail2Cloud product line can be found at http://www.mail2cloud.io. More than 3,700 companies with 1,000,000 users have added mxHero to their email. To learn more about mxHero visit http://www.mxhero.com. Find mxHero on Twitter: @mxheronet and Facebook: mxHero.netSTART YOUR FREE MAIL2CLOUD TRIAL TODAY!