Apple takes a lot of static and noise about iCloud’s price tags if you go beyond the free storage level. Based upon Apple’s history of charging more for everything you might think iCloud is the most expensive online storage option.
It seems that everyone and his brother has a new cloud service. Here’s one you may not have heard about but it has a pedigree of sorts. It’s called Upthere, a cloud storage service started by former Apple senior veep of software, Bertrand Serlet. Any new product that wants to compete against entrenched competition needs to differentiate itself. How is Upthere doing compared to iCloud?
iCloud’s Silver Lining
Most online cloud storage services do much the same thing so differentiation isn’t easy beyond the price tag, but there are levels of differentiation. For example, iCloud has many Mac, iPhone, and iPad apps that integrate storage and sync. Dropbox works much the same way. Storage rates are premium, but many, many apps also use Dropbox for online storage.
The competition is intense. In addition to Upthere, there’s Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Box, SugarSync, Carbonite, iDrive, BackBlaze, CrashPlan, Mozy, Amazon, and many others– all do much the same thing, all have tiered pricing of sorts, and each has a few features to differentiate from competitors.
Apple keeps iCloud pricing simple. 5GB is free. The next tier is 50GB and that’s a nominal 99-cents per month. 200GB is $2.99 and a full 1TB (terabyte) is $9.99 per month.
How does that compare to the very popular Dropbox? Dropbox Pro gives you 1TB of storage for $8.25 per month; less than comparable storage from Apple. Google Drive gives free storage up to 15GB, but charges $1.99 per month for 100GB and a comparable $9.99 for 1TB. Microsoft OneDrive gives away up to 5GB of cloud storage, but charges $1.99 per month for 50GB and 1TB of storage is only available with an Office 365 subscription plan.
Amazon’s approach is somewhat odd with free storage at 5GB, unlimited photo only storage for $11.99 per year, but unlimited total storage for any file type at $60 per year. That’s a relative bargain, but Amazon doesn’t have many apps that use Cloud Drive.
So, how would a new cloud storage service such as Upthere compete against the many well entrenched industry cloud service businesses? Differentiation is key, of course. Upthere starts at $4.99 a month for 200GB of storage, notably more expensive than Apple’s own iCloud rates. Every 100GB of storage is $1.99, so getting to 1TB of storage would be an additional $16 a month, added to the basic $4.99 per month for a total of about $21 for 1TB of cloud storage.
iCloud’s rates are beginning to look pretty good now, right?
Upthere has apps for Mac, Windows, iPhone and iPad, and Android devices. But $4.99 a month for 200GB is among the most expensive, as is $21 per month for 1TB of cloud storage. What else does Upthere have going for it to set it apart from iCloud, Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, et al?
I got nothing.
After pouring through the techno-speak and marketing-babble and Greek on Upthere’s website trying to understand the core technology differences, I’m convinced that they might have something special going on with how files are stored in their cloud, but the company has yet to figure out how to explain it so an average cloud user– I use iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive, and all of them integrate into many Mac, iPhone, and iPad applications that Upthere does not– can easily understand the differences.
I understand price. And I understand the value of app integration for my devices. Upthere loses on both counts. Alright, despite the founders roots in the hallowed halls of One Infinite Loop, and recognizing that price is a differentiator, so is how a product gets used. I would consider using Upthere if I knew what it did better to justify the higher price tag.