On his way to announcing his big thing at the first Dropbox devcon today in San Francisco, Drew Houston dropped what I was hoping would be a hint. He said there were already more files in Dropbox than tweets in Twitter. From that I hoped he was about to announce a developer service for notifications, the message bus of Twitter, accessible to developers. You know, the people that Twitter jettisoned last year, or the year before, depending on how you look at it.
Instead they offered a centralized database for status data. Which is very much an evolutionary step, and something that's already offered by Amazon, and presumably will be offered by Dropbox's main competitors, Box, Google, Microsoft, and someday perhaps Apple.
No one in tech seems to want to challenge Twitter, which is a shame, because there has to be a way to zig to their zag. There are so many valid ways of looking at Internet-scale notification. It clearly should be something Amazon offers, it's puzzling that they don't.
Dropbox defined a new type of software platform, one so simple, yet so deep, and totally in tune with the times as the number of computers people try to use explodes. Dropbox is the perfect way to let us mix it up however we want. Use an Android phone and an Apple tablet. It disrupts the major platform vendors' attempts at hegemony. Houston shows a picture of the major platforms and explains that the vendors don't want their users' data intermingled. But Dropbox tries to undo that, successfully. And they will keep pushing. But imho I wish there were more.
I wish Dropbox would broaden their view of themselves. Data is great, but publishing is vitally connected to data. And publishing comes in several forms. Realtime like Twitter, and more persistent like WordPress and Tumblr.
I can't say what Dropbox should do. I am not in their shoes, and I am a developer who has built on their platform. As a developer I am happy with what they did. But I would be ecstatic if they would broaden the scope of competition and be the ones to challenge Twitter.
It still amazes me that no one wants to do that.