If you teach entrepreneurship, Dropbox is a great case because it illustrates the startup concept that some ideas are features, some ideas are products and some ideas can be companies. The Brooks Review re-opens this question with a recent article, "Dropbox is a Feature".
The article mentions Steve Jobs' comment during his attempt for Apple to acquire Dropbox:
"Jobs smiled warmly as he told them he was going after their market. “He said we were a feature, not a product,” says Houston."
Jobs post-acquisition integration of Dropbox clearly saw it as a feature, similar to iCloud on steroids. If Microsoft had bought Dropbox they would have seen it as a product, similar to SharePoint. However, products or features do not make companies and Dropbox, to date, has become a successful company with a multi-billion dollar valuation.
Dropbox now faces much intense competition from Google, Amazon and Microsoft. This competition has encouraged Dropbox to offer new lower prices for certain services. Always concerning when a company is forced to lower prices due to competitive pricing. Such reaction suggests that the product has become an undifferentiated commodity.
If I was at Dropbox I would be thinking about how they built a company and did not get trapped as a feature or a product. The vision that overcame feature or product should be restored. Just competing on price is insufficient to keep building a company.
Also, I think I signed up for Dropbox the very day it launched and have now used it for all my file storage for years. Effectively my digital life is on Dropbox. I sure hope Dropbox can figure out its path to continue as a company and not get caught up in "feature" or "product" or competitive pricing.
Previous stories on Dropbox are in the Related Articles below.