Simplify your life.That’s what the DropBox strap-line tells you when you arrive at DropBox.com. And, they’re true to their word. I use DropBox every day. I upoad work documents, personal documents some of my reading material. And it’s everywhere. On my iPad, phone, Mac, PC. I have stopped thinking about where my files are,. An element of my life, has indeed, been simplified.
So why are DropBox establishing a HQ in Dublin? Well, perhaps there was a U2 connection. More than likely someone pointed out that Ireland is a pretty good place to establish an EU operating base. Ireland, Luxembourg and Switzerland are the countries of choice for technology busnesses to establish headquarters because as a business owner you will ultimately pay less tax. less tax equals more cash to send back to shareholders. You can derive from that, that DropBox must be doing OK, and are likely to actually make a profit. Good news for DropBox, undoubtedly. Good news for Ireland? Well yes. This is a tough time for overseas – many US – companies doing business in Europe. Starbucks particularly have come under fierce attack from the media, and the public. Real brand damage has been inflicted. So much so, that the UK tax authority, HMRC are ‘in talks’ with Starbucks. Oh I wish the tax authority would call me up and say ‘let’s negotiate your tax’. They never have. They just take theire share every month. I whinge in the pub on a Saturday night about it. That’s as far as we get.
But, I don’t employ hundreds, or thousands of people. Those people I don’t employ, they don’t pay tax or insurance contributions. They in turn don’t pay VAT on everything they buy. They – oh sorry – I don’t employ them. And therein lies the dichotomy I face. I like to complain about bankers, about light-touch regulation, and debt hangover and tut-tut at Jimmy Carr. But I find it hard to complain about companies who create employment, buy local goods and stimulate an economy. If they pay less tax than I do I’m more jealous than enraged. If they are a company with a a sustainable busines, a good employer and a net contributor to an economy, that sounds OK to me. In this time of austerity, foreign investment and stimulus is a good thing. And we need more of it.
So what’s next for DropBox? I was thinking about them last night – where is the next big thing for them? They launched DropBox for teams. They’re competing head-on with SkyDrive and Google Drive. They seem to be doing OK. Weill they be acquired by a global technology business? Probably. Amazon has got to be the belle of the ball for DropBox. For so many reasons, I want to see DropBox and Amazon elope to a sort of cloud computing Valhalla and raise little cloud babies. The first child of the union I’d like to see is DropBox for Schools. The DropBox initiative SpaceRace is a good idea. Space for students. It isn’t DropBox for schools though.
In the technology business for the last two years we have endlessly heard about the Consumerisation of IT. It really is time that it burst into the principles office and pulled his hair. It’s time that schools, using tablets got seriously consumerised. Mobile Device Management is now feeling its way into education. Pay to play – as a student, you sign up for network access and your device becomes a repsonsible player on the school network. School networks won’t grind to a halt because of overuse of YouTube during nine to five. There. That’s Consumerisation of IT for you.
And DropBox for Schools? What if a teacher enrolled her students as a DropBox Class. Then she saves a document in the homework folder. All the students have acess to that document and can open it and complete it. Good start. Then their teacher creates a document in the ‘Projects’ folder. That document is a single version that all the students can collaborate on. There’s an element of version control – so the teacher – or perhaps the class can vote, decide or agree on which changes are published. At the end of the assignment, Miss approves a final version, and it goes public. Then they have a school trip. An archaology dig. Every single student photographs the site, and shares the photos on DropBox. Shares them on the class Events/December2012Dig/photos folder. Everyone has a view. Collaboratove contribution. Aagain, Miss approves final versions, and the trip is saved, recorded and published. The class becomes an entity, with identity, shared experience and learning.
It may just be vicarious, but I have a good feeling about this.
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