I wanted to share some information with you about a service that I’ve found to be quite compelling. It’s called Drop.io (say "droppy-oh"), and the more we use it here and get involved with the user community and the people who run the business, the more reasons we find to make use of it. I like it so much in fact that I’ve created a new category in this blog for it.
With Drop.io, in short, you "drop" your data, audio, images, notes, links, or other assets into a protected area and you can keep it to yourself or share it with a password. Data is stored in "the cloud", on servers supported by Amazon AWS, but as a user we don’t care about that. All we care about is that there is a place to easily save and retrieve data assets of many types.
The service is completely free up to 100MB of disk space, though someone can create as many drops as they want, and it’s completely anonymous with no registration. They also provide free phone numbers, where voice mail gets stored in your drop as an MP3, and free phone numbers for conferencing and faxing. Right now we are very happy users of SneakEmail.com for anonymous disposable email addresses. I have a couple hundred email addresses that I’ve passed out for any number of purposes and if someone rewards me with spam I simply delete the address – byebye. Drop.io provides disposable email addresses plus data storage space plus disposable telephone numbers plus… I would not recommend using Drop.io instead of SneakEmail just for anonymous email – both services provide much more value-add (and I encourage you to check them both out), and we make use of both services.
As a third-party developer, including custom development of addins for Microsoft Office products, we’re excited about the API that allows us to programmatically integrate with this environment. We can create addins that share appointments and contacts, deliver voice mails to workstations and link to them with journals. We can pull data from one or more resources, buffer them in a drop, and distribute them to groups of authorized recipients without attaching them to emails – just give people a link and password to a common drop, maybe one that’s created for a single project or event.
With Drop.io, people can be notified of new drop activity with a text message to their cell phone, RSS, or using the API we can email, call someone with Skype, Twitter them, or make use of any other collaboration tool.
Why not just use an FTP site? Why not just use email? Why not…?
Sure, the Drop.io offering is not completely unique, and honestly most of the services can be found elsewhere. For example, consider Microsoft Office Live Workspace. It’s free and integrates directly with Outlook and other Office apps. Today’s OfficeUsers.org newsletter suggested this in response to an inquiry about sharing files. I agree that MOLW might be a better solution in many cases, but not in others, and I recommend that people take a look at both solutions and take advantage of what each one has to offer.
One of the attractive aspects of Drop.io is that several services are aggregated in one place and they’re all easy to use in creative ways. The service is also growing constantly and the company is quite responsive, which means there will continue to be new services and enhancements to existing features – almost as fast as we can request them. (They’re gonna love me for that.) Unlike just making use of an FTP site, for example, it’s quite straight-forward to integrate the Drop.io service with others like Yahoo, Twitter, Google Apps, Linked-In, FaceBook, MySpace, or any other service out there that has an API or does mashups.
Where do we go from here?
Well, the web site is http://drop.io/ – nope, there’s no ".com" on that.
There are several blogs from company employees, you can start here: http://drop.io/blog – notice that they use Drop.io as a blog medium (!). Developer information is here: http://drop.io/developers. Information on premium accounts is here: http://drop.io/premium and http://drop.io/plans (Managed solutions are now available) And I strongly encourage you to get inspiration from the use examples here: http://drop.io/uses. They also take support inquiries, comments, and suggestions at GetSatisfaction.com (http://getsatisfaction.com/dropio) which is another website that has an API which can be used to integrate with Drop.io and all of the other services mentioned above. And there is also a forum for developers.
I have a confession to make: If you see Starbuck or CaptainStarbuck talking about Drop.io, that’s me. Heck, my alter-ego even has his own blog about Drop.io stuff. I’ll re-post those blog entries here over the next week or so. Why the alias? That’s another way I avoid spam and other hassles – I make anonymous inquiries until I’m sure that I’ll be comfortable doing business with companies and/or websites. Now that Starbuck is "out of the closet" so to speak, I’ll still use the alias for general purposes but I’ll be more open about my support for Drop.io here and in other venues.
I’ll tell you where I’m going with this – we have at least three projects in various stages of planning/development right now which are based on the Drop.io platform. Yes, if you think about it, this is a development platform for creating new products and services. We think there are tens of thousands of consumers and corporate employees out there who can benefit from using Drop.io directly (for free or for fee) and we believe we can provide value-add offerings that people will want to use (again for free and for fee).
So keep your eyes on this blog category (subscribe with RSS if you wish) and please feel free to post comments and suggestions about offerings that we can create to make your life a little easier and maybe add a little fun in the process.