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Amazon Amazon introduced a new file storage and collaboration service calledZocalo thatâ€”on first blush, at least, looks like it might be a Dropbox killer. Much like Dropbox and other cloud storage services, Zocalo lets you sync files between the Amazon cloud and your phone or PC. It has a business twist too, helping IT staffers control who gets access to which files. The product must be making some Dropbox executives uneasy, because unlike its other big competitorsâ€”Google and Microsoftâ€” Dropbox itself is a pretty big Amazon customer. The startup uses Amazonâ€™s S3 storage service to store the more than 500 million files that get uploaded to Dropbox each day. Thatâ€™s going to make it pretty much impossible for Dropbox to undercut Amazonâ€™s pricing. Zocalo starts at $5 per user per month for 200GB of storage. Dropbox charges twice that for half as much storage. But price isnâ€™t everything, and Dropbox still has a several advantages that Amazon will be hard-pressed to overcome. 1. Sync is incredibly hard to get right Dropboxâ€™s greatest strength is that it makes syncing files with the cloud and sharing them with other users seem so easy. But itâ€™s not. Behind the scenes, Dropbox has a vast system of software keeping track of which files have been edited when, and who has access to what. Sync is a particularly difficult problem, and one small bug can lay waste to years of important user data. Err the other way, and youâ€™re constantly resurrecting long-deleted files. Amazon has the technical chops to build a reliable storage and synchronization system, but making it as invisible to the end-user as Dropbox is no easy task. Dropbox has a seven-year head start here. And customers have shown, again and again, that theyâ€™re actually happy to pay more money for a tool with fewer features as long as itâ€™s easy to use. 2. Dropboxâ€™s â€œusers firstâ€ strategy Dropboxâ€™s strategy has always been to win end-users over first, then sell to the business side. Amazon is taking the opposite approach, by appealing directly to businesses. The problem with this approach is that even if Amazon is successful in selling its service to a business, the managers of that business still have to convince their employees to use it. Employees who are already Dropbox might not want to make the switch â€” especially if Zocalo ends up being even slightly harder to use than Dropbox. Could Amazon appeal directly to end users in this space? It already tried that with Amazon Cloud Drive, which is still around, but has been largely forgotten since its 2011 launch. 3. Branding Amazon already has a dizzying number of services and features under the Amazon Web Services umbrella, and it can be hard to keep track of them all. And the company is always adding more. That means it could be easy for the product to be overlooked, much as Cloud Drive has. Thatâ€™s made all the worse by the name Zocalo. In Spanish, ZÃ³calo means â€œplinth,â€ which is a platform for pillars or statues. It can also refer to the Plaza de la ConstituciÃ³n, the public square in the center of Mexico City. Unfortunately, itâ€™s not a word that means much to non-Spanish speakers, and itâ€™s particularly hard to remember. Bu now, just about everybody knows about Dropbox. Independence Ahead? Of course itâ€™s not all smooth sailing for Dropbox and other competitors. This move will put pricing pressure on Dropbox, and it may need to spend some of $1.1 billion itâ€™s raised on gaining more independence from Amazon. Startups are always in danger of being squashed by larger companies and bigger marketing budgets and the ability to undercut them on cost. But that problem is magnified when youâ€™re running your service on infrastructure owned and operated by the same big companies you have to compete with. Weâ€™ve already seen this with Amazon Prime, which competes with Netflix, another major Amazon Web Services customer. But Amazon is still a long way from killing Netflix, and thatâ€™s good news for Dropbox. http://www.wired.com/2014/07/amazon-zocalo/