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Dropbox Was Almost In iCloud

iCloud’s here — useful, without a revolution. But Forbes tells us it could have been something more, had Steve Jobs gotten his way with an $US800 million buyout of Dropbox. Hell froze over and he didn’t. But what if?

According to Forbes’ Victoria Barret, Jobs was rebuffed by the scrappy startup’s founder, even with that boatload of cash on the table. Jobs, unused to being turned down — especially by a 26-year-old — turned on the quintessential Apple charm:

Jobs smiled warmly as he told them he was going after their market. “He said we were a feature, not a product,”

Part threat, part insult, all meant to pull the cloud storage firm into Apple’s maw. Dropbox head honcho Drew Houston declined a second meeting with Jobs at the startup’s HQ, fearing Apple espionage. He never heard from Steve again.

Apple then went on to announce, tout and release iCloud, a remote storage service that isn’t quite Dropbox at all. iCloud is the invisible maid, taking contacts and calendars, syncing them without a whisper, out of sight, out of mind. Dropbox is a gigabyte-stuffed backpack you can send anywhere stuffed with anything. Movies, music, pictures, programs — anything. The ethos of each seem almost at odds; iCloud is to be turned on and forgotten, Dropbox, a weathered part of your digital toolkit.

So what did Jobs have in mind? We won’t know. It’s doubtful Apple needed the infrastructure — they already have the mammoth North Carolina data centre.

So then maybe Jobs meant exactly what he said — Dropbox was meant to be a feature, not a standalone setup. Perhaps it would’ve been the new iDrive — conspicuously absent from iCloud — allowing us to move anything we want between any computer and iOS device we own. Perfectly integrated into OS X. This would have been killer. Drop a movie into the iCloud-ified Dropbox folder on your computer, and watch it beamed to your Apple TV and iPad, while knowing it’s stored safely, remotely, forever.

Or maybe it would’ve been something else entirely. But for now, it remains a hell of a great alternative to using iCloud at all. [Forbes]

Photo: Cameron Schmucker