This post appeared in an old technology blog that can be found here.
I have recently began trying to find a solution to the mess that is my collection of photographs and videos. I am a huge Apple proponent, but iCloud has not been the seamless answer it was promised to be. In my search I found a history of successes and failures in that space, with no dominant solution. An example is Everpix who was able to build a great product the tech-savvy loved, but was not be able to grow fast enough and eventually ran out of money. Today, apps such as Loom and Trunx attempt to solve the media collection conundrum, while Evernote is creating software to store information online that was once stored offline, and Dropbox wants to be the cloud storage juggernaut.
All of these companies (with the exeption of Trunx yet) have software built across all devices to encourage ease of use. I am currently a Loom, Dropbox, and Evernote user and I will agree that they all work seamlessly as advertised. However, I am a 20 year old college student who avidly follows the tech world and is frequently downloading new applications and visiting new websites. I have discussed the cloud with friends from high school who make faces when the word “cloud” is mentioned in reference to technology. They proceed to curse and ask/scream WHAT IS IT?
These cloud-based companies understand the problem and attempt to make their products as simple as possible to retain first-time users and turn them into paying customers. Their efforts have thus far failed in my opinion and I am not positive what the answer is. What I do know is that the average consumer is not going to be able to comprehend the cloud and all of its superpowers all at once. The cloud will be better off advertised as a solution to a specific problem.
For example, I plan on signing my family and friends up for Loom to do away with all of the phone storage/iCloud banter I hear about from time to time. Most people my age frequently capture life events on their iPhones through pictures or videos and would like a better way to organize them. When I downloaded Loom for a friend for the first time, auto-uploaded their photos, and signed in for them on Loom.com, his face grew astonished when he saw his precious photos appear online in an easy-to-view format. He proceeded to ask questions about how it could be that easy, to which I explained to him the powers of the cloud with a concrete example that he had just witnessed. I believe that is the first cloud product my friend had ever used (exception possibly Google Drive), and because of how it was introduced I believe he will be much more likely to use cloud-based products in the future. In addition, he will likely go to his college and turn his friends on to the app as well (true organic growth).
I believe cloud-based companies should be able to grow in a more organic way such as Loom has to my friends and I. Dropbox’s invite a friend and get more storage method is more of a growth ‘hack’ than true growth. These companies need to boil their ‘world-saving’ solutions down to a single issue the average consumer may have and make it easy for them to solve it. Over time, the consumer will likely grow more accustomed to the product and use it to solve other problems they may have. I use Evernote to store interesting tidbits I read all over the web, but until Evernote can boil down all that it is into individual solutions, it will not grow to the levels it otherwise could.