The day they dropped drop.io
A very sad day has come to pass in the world of convenient cloud services. We’re talking about a rather good and free service called drop.io. In operation for the last three years, drop.io helped people privately share pictures, video, audio, documents, in fact just about any type of media you could throw at it. No login was required and it was ridiculously easy to use and share with others.
The service was quickly successful and gained many plaudits. It was nominated for the Technical Achievement Award at the South By Southwest 11th Annual Web Awards back in 2007.
Unfortunately at the end of October 2010 the company, founded by Sam Lessin and Darshan Somashekar, announced that it had struck a deal with Facebook. The world’s biggest website bought the technology and assets of the company along with the engineering expertise which made this great little service.
That, you might reasonably think, would mean that the cool features and services offered by drop.io were going to be integrated into Facebook. If that were the situation then it’s business as usual. Yet that’s not the case. As the announcement from Drop.io explains, “In the coming weeks, we’ll be winding down the drop.io service. As of this week, people will no longer be able to create new free drops, but you’ll be able to download content from existing drops until Dec. 15. Paid user accounts will still be available through Dec. 15 and paid users will be able to continue using the service normally. After Dec. 15, paid accounts will be discontinued as well.”
So that’s it. Drop.io is dead and, as of now, it looks like it’s not about to be resurrected in a new guise within Facebook. No doubt some of the technology might resurface within the new owner’s service, but it doesn’t look like the core data sharing tools which made it such a great little site are going to be saved and that’s a great pity.
Of course, Facebook is hardly unique in buying out smaller players — either to negate a potential competitive threat in the future or to buy in technology and skills in order to better compete. Microsoft and Google (and a few others) have a growing list of companies that have been acquired. Microsoft spent considerable sums buying up Danger, Inc. It was a company that specialised in platforms, software, design, and services for mobiles. It’s perhaps best known for the T-Mobile Sidekick which was primarily sold in the USA. The team then developed the Kin social mobile phones under Microsoft’s ownership and launched in April this year. Then, 48 days later, Microsoft had effectively killed the launch and the division along with it.
Yet, at least when Microsoft purchased Danger it initially intended to run with the team and technology it had bought and see it continue to thrive under a new regime. That doesn’t seem to be the case with drop.io. In all likelihood Facebook simply wants the engineering talent and, as the drop.io platform does not fit its wider plans, it’s being wound up.
Friendfeed faced a similar situation. It was perhaps more directly a threat to Facebook. As such Facebook decided to buy out the threat and gain the engineering talent at the same time. Whilst the service continues, today Friendfeed feels as if it now languishes off in the corner of Facebook’s server farm somewhere, not much cared for.
There are few certainties when it comes to the web but one thing we can be pretty sure about is that drop.io will not be the last ‘cool’ service to head south — not because it couldn’t compete or its technology was lacking, but simply because a bigger fish doesn’t want it cluttering up its space, or because it will make a tasty morsel, worth swallowing up in order to get even bigger still.
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