Dropbox launches $17 per month family plan to grow cloud storage consumer base

Dropbox is rolling out its new family plan for all users after several months in beta testing. The launch comes as rival consumer-focused cloud services increasingly beef up their offerings to tie users into their respective ecosystems, but it also comes amid a growing demand for cloud services and infrastructure due to the rapid shift to remote working and schooling forced by the global pandemic.

It has been a decent enough year for Dropbox. At its last earnings, the San Francisco-based company reported 15 million paying users, up 10% on the corresponding period a year earlier, while revenue grew 16% to $467 million. It also hit profitability for the first time as a public company this year, and claimed that COVID-19 contributed to increased demand for its paid products, including Dropbox Business Team and Dropbox Plus for individuals.

The family plan fits neatly into all of that, and could ultimately help Dropbox secure more paying users.

Family affair

The family plan has become a staple feature of subscription products across the technology spectrum, with the likes of Spotify striving to discourage password-sharing by charging families a little more for extra features and convenience.

Dropbox first announced its family plan back in June, and it started rolling out to select users as part of a closed beta program the following month. The plan is essentially Dropbox Plus, except it covers up to six family members and the 2 terabytes (TB) of storage covers all members. While each user has their own individual account to store their personal files in private, there is also a “family room,” which is basically a shared folder where everyone can store photos or documents for others to access. Perhaps most importantly, the family plan negates the need for separate subscriptions and billing.

Above: Dropbox family plan

Dropbox’s new family plan will cost $16.99 per month when billed annually, a figure that rises to $19.99 when the customer elects to pay month-to-month. So the cheapest this will cost is $203 per year. For comparison purposes, this is more than double the cost of a 2TB Google One storage subscription, while a Microsoft 365 Family subscription offers 6TB of storage and access to Microsoft’s full suite of Office products for $99.99 per year.

Elsewhere, families that are fully signed up members of the Apple fanclub can pay $9.99 per month for 2TB worth of shareable iCloud storage. However, with the recently announced Apple One memberships, the $29.95 monthly Premier plan not only gives families of 6 2TB of iCloud storage, but also access to Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+,  and Apple Fitness+.

While the Dropbox family plan seems a little pricey compared to other available services, it does come with additional features that may appeal to specific family setups. Back in August, Dropbox launched a password manager, computer backup tool, and a new feature it calls Vault, which enables users to share access to private and confidential files that are secured behind a PIN code. So parents that are already invested in Dropbox, and who wish to instill strong security hygiene in their kids, may be more inclined to dole out a little more for the Dropbox family plan.

“The cost of Dropbox Family is less than the price of two Dropbox Plus accounts,” a company spokesperson told VentureBeat. “With this plan, we wanted to offer a solution that would not only give each family member access to Dropbox Plus and all of its features, but would also be a shared experience where families can organize and store their collective family information and coordinate better with one another.”

Some projections forecast that the personal cloud market will grow from $23.7 billion in 2019 to $73.4 billion by 2024, and it’s easy to see how the likes of Google, Microsoft, and Apple are well-positioned to capitalize on this growth given the respective ecosystems that they lead. Dropbox needs to become a stickier proposition, and one way of doing that is by bundling features and making it more attractive to more people at a lower cost. A family plan goes some way toward achieving this.

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