April 26, 2016

OneDrive discontinues Cloud Storage

Freemium customers pay the price.


You might not be surprised to read that yet another Cloud Storage provider has reduced or discontinued their 'Freemium' offerings.

The platform in question this time is Microsoft OneDrive, announcing that as of the 27th April the amount of storage that comes with OneDrive will be reduced from 15GB to 5GB, as well as completely eradicating the 15GB 'camera roll' service for users.

We're not writing this to point the finger at Microsoft and scold them, who can complain about a service provider changing the rules around a product that noone has ever had to pay for? It's a similar scenario to people being outraged when Facebook suffers an outage or an unpopular change to the interface. No-one is paying for the service, but they sure as heck are allowed to complain about it when it fails to deliver.

Surely this warrants a more in-depth look at the ubiquitous 'Freemium' models that almost every cloud provider offers, and then a short time later is reduced, discontinued or suddenly demands payment. Recent examples include DropBox, iCloud, CrashPlan and Amazon, to name a few. There are now enough use cases to demonstrate the free model is not sustainable. In their email to customers, Microsoft state that "We've made a difficult decision, but it's one that will let us sustainably operate OneDrive into the future".

So aside from the stunning revelation that giving free service to millions of people isn't sustainable, what can be learned from this and other examples? Firstly, users need to accept that a free service might not always be free or fit for purpose. Secondly, people need to ask themselves what kind of engineering efforts have gone into a platform that is being given away for free? Probably not their best efforts. Or their best security. Or the best fail-safes. You get the idea.

To make matters worse for aggravated users, Microsoft actually allowed people to retain their 15GB of storage....as long as you registered for the bonus before January 31st, 2015. A long time ago. Of course, if you actually want to pay for your service, then by all means you can carry on unaffected - But the typical free user will be so outraged at the change that they will elect to find another platform rather than hand over a small fee per month.

Lastly, because we all love a good conspiracy theory...Could Teltras sudden 'technical difficulty' surrounding their offer of 200Gb of free OneDrive storage possibly be related to this news?