October 31, 2013
Bainbridge On Productivity: Dropbox Or iCloud?
Posted by David Zaring

He loves iCloud, but the past few years of Dropbox haven't been bad, either.  So which should he keep?

Here's a smidgen of his pros and cons:

I love the possibilities iCloud thus offers. The ability to seamlessly work on any platform is very attractive. The problem as I see it is that the rest of my world isn't ready for me to embrace iCloud:

  • In the classroom, I have to run PowerPoint off the law school network on a PC machine, so I can't simply run a Keynote presentation on my iPad that will show on the class projector. Getting the Keynote Presentation off my iMac or iPad and onto the Windows network as a PowerPoint presentation seems non-trivial.
  • Law reviews and book publishers still use MS Word files. If I work in Pages, how much of a hassle will it be going back and forth between Pages and Word, especially when we get to the editing stage and are exchanged versions with tracked changes, comments, etc....
  • My coauthors are all MS Word/Windows people (not that there's anything wrong with that).
  • The law school network is Windows-based. Getting documents off the network and into Dropbox is easy. Not sure it'll be that easy with iCloud.

I remain on Microsoft because of some sense that that is what the legal scholarship world does, because I had a horrible time converting Word docs to Apple docs and vice versa many years ago, and so gave up resisting, and because at this point, the startup costs of switching seem like they could be burdensome (but with the iPhone, and the iPad, burrowing into my setup, that may change).

But I love Dropbox.  So handy!  So simple!  Though it doesn't do a good job of calling up powerpoints over at the law school, it has made the need to bring in my laptop at work increasingly unecessary.  I actually rely on my desktop, for the first time since I started this business!

I don't take full advantage.  I swap docs through email, rather than shared folders (and only use the latter for data).  But even there, Dropbox is a great backup plan.

My sense of other departments at Wharton, btw, is that social scientists are very likely to be on Macs, but likely to share data and drafts through Dropbox.  So take that anecdata for what it is worth.

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