Beyond a shadow of a doubt in my mind, the single biggest chink in the armour for iOS is it’s lack of a proper synchronising file system. When I say “chink” I actually mean “gaping hole you could drive a juggernaut through”. It’s head scratchingly frustrating that a company who are so clever and have such a good sense of “making things easy” for consumers haven’t solved this problem or worse, have exacerbated it.
This lack of vision on Apple’s part has meant that my various apps have had to resort to all sorts of self built synchronization schemes to varying degrees of success.
It also, more importantly represents a barrier to entry for most ordinary people in transfering files relating to their applications via the, let’s be generous and call it merely “awkward” mechanism in iTunes.
Of course the problem is laughably easy for Apple to solve. Buy Dropbox and integrate their code as the core filesystem API for iOS (and the backend as the core of the new MobileMe).
Dropbox is without question the single most important application on my iMac, Macbook, iOS devices and PCs. It has become so central to what I do and so much a core component of my app ecosystem (most of my important apps use it) that I almost couldn’t operate without it. I’m sure most of their customer base think likewise.
And therein lies the rub. Why should this be a third party application from a small (initially) developer when Apple should have had this stuff out of the box? Apple have focused much of their cloud effort on UX and fancy design for MobileMe apps and seem to have forgotten about the core capability which a cloud storage platform can provide – ubiqutous information access.
Be that as it may, if Apple saw the light and just bought Dropbox and integrated them we would have a truly remarkable opportunity for an integrated device ecosystem where information is (near) instantaneously synchronised across all of the “smart” devices we use.
The new iCloudBox could become a standard feature not only of iOS but of also of Mac OS X (and here’s a radical thought make file-system-drivers/libraries available on Windows as well. Dropbox have the codebase already.) where by default your “Documents” and “Pictures” folders (for example) are automatically enrolled for online synchronisation (and hence iOS device synchronisation).
The barrier to entry (i.e. the “awkward” iTunes mechanism) for the non-initiated would also disappear. They’d just use files as normal and the synchronisation would occur implicitly and quietly behind the scenes.
I could geek out and drone on and on the possibilities of this but I’ll leave it at this plaintiff cry: Apple, please buy Dropbox! kthxbye!