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September has become Apple’s month. For much of the last decade, they have used September to launch impressive new products as well as updates to existing devices and services. 2015 was no exception with the recent announcement of a new version of iOS, updated iPhones and a new iPad Pro.

Somewhat lost in that announcement, however, is likely the largest long-term driver of value to Apple (and commensurate loss of long-term value to mobile carriers) – Apple-sponsored leasing. With this move Apple takes yet another value block from the carriers and further solidifies customers in the Apple ecosystem. It is a brilliant move for Apple that has the carriers frightened.

The US mobile market has been shifting on several fronts for the past two years, most notably in how customers acquire devices. For the first decade of the 21st century, and even up until early 2013, the standard model was for a carrier to offer a new device to a customer at a steep discount in exchange for a contract, usually two years in length. This “subsidized” model helped lock customers into a particular carrier, creating a strong barrier to switching, and shielded customers from the true cost of the ever-more-powerful mobile devices being carried in their pockets.

When Apple launched the first iPhone in mid-2007, the foundation of the subsidy model began to crack, but it would be half a decade before it essentially crumbled.  As the Apple-Android duopoly grew, driving faster, bigger and more functional devices into the market, carriers began incurring subsidy costs in excess of $400 and sometimes higher. Over time, the secondary market began to realize the value of these devices and carriers struggled with finding pricing models that made profitable sense with a two-year upgrade cycle. Additionally, carriers took a look at successful “leasing” models in other markets (Japan, the US car sales) and saw an opportunity (but missed the risk).

Leasing devices began in earnest at almost every carrier in 2013 and is now the dominant form of device acquisition in the market. Verizon, for example, will not be offering subsidized devices going forward (and said almost 60% of its third quarter smartphone sales would be on installment/leasing plans), and most carriers will follow that lead by the end of this year.  

For the carrier, leasing fully separated device and service, always seemed like a noble and economically solid decision. Without boring you with the details, the leasing model is materially better for carriers from an accounting and economic perspective. What the carriers never realized, or intentionally blinded themselves to, was that leasing removed one more value element connecting them with their customers. Every carrier fears being the “dumb pipe” and we are stepping closer to that daily.

A brilliant element of the Apple strategy (and Android to some degree, but less so without full end-to-end control of hardware and software) is the continued accretion of value to Apple, and disaggregation of the carriers from the relationship.  Think about it. Apple started, really, with your music. The carriers all tried their own music services, but none could compete with iTunes (or Spotify and Pandora). Apple offers its own insurance product – AppleCare – that sucks people away from one of the most profitable offerings the carriers have.  

Do most Apple users take advantage of iCloud? Yes, why not?  5GB free storage, location services for your device and a host of other services make it a handy service. Oh, and they sell you additional storage (because who really has only one Apple device)?  Have you used ApplePay? If not, you will, or the Google equivalent (I’m sure you remember the carrier payment service – ISIS – not kidding on the name).  Another value block for Apple.

With this September’s announcement, Apple has taken yet another huge step in locking customers into the Apple Universe – a world where the carrier is irrelevant.  I can now lease an “unlocked” (industry parlance for a phone that works on everyone’s network) device in the super-customer-friendly Apple store (or online) for $32 a month (including AppleCare). Apple promises me a new iPhone every year.  Oh, and that iPhone can be switched to any carrier I want, with almost no switching cost other than time and maybe an activation fee.

So now the carriers have been disaggregated from a huge value block and locked further into Apple’s universe. Not surprisingly, Samsung announced their own leasing plan soon after Apple announced theirs. What then, ties me to a carrier?  Now only three material things – network quality, price and customer service.  

Every carrier, not surprisingly, is desperately searching for other ways to inspire your loyalty. Some, like Sprint, will use price on the iPhone. (Sprint’s iPhone leasing plan is currently on sale for $15/month.) Others like AT&T and Verizon will continue to tout network quality and speed, and add services like storage (AT&T locker and Verizon Cloud) that put a customer’s data at the carrier level, not the device manufacturer level.

If the venture capital and IPO market are any guides, storage may be the near-term best option for carriers. Third-party storage companies like Box and Dropbox command billion dollar plus valuations. Apple already offers iCloud (and Samsung a similar product). But for households with mixed iOS and Android worlds, or who just don’t like having all their proverbial eggs in one basket, carrier storage can be the sticky app for the next few years.  

As the IoT market grows, customers will have even more non-traditional mobile data to keep. We liken it to consumer banking – once you have auto bill pay from your checking account, changing banks is really hard. Not worth the hassle. If carriers can tap into that market, it may offset the loss of value in the handset space.

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Oct 06 2015

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Android, iOS, Mac


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Sep 29 2015

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Bitcasa News, Bitcasa Tech, Cloud storage Video


It is an interesting time in consumer cloud storage. In 2011 it seemed that Dropbox was on an unstoppable roll, and was going to become *the* one and only consumer cloud service. They announced 50M user accounts, and seemed to be outpacing the competition by leaps and bounds. The consumer cloud war was won, and Dropbox was the billion dollar darling.

Fast forward five years, and things have gotten interesting. Simply put, the cloud is dis-aggregating (and that is a good thing). Namely:

  • Dropbox has shifted focus to enterprise
  • The big boys have come to play
  • “The cloud” is not a single app, instead a set of service offerings

Dropbox shifts focus to the enterprise

Let’s make one thing clear: Dropbox is not going away from the consumer cloud space. But they are no longer in a winner-take-all situation, either. They have proven it is hard to “go it alone” in consumer cloud… to build a fundamentally stable and profitable business with simply a stand alone “Freemium” siloed cloud offering. In order to justify a $10B+ valuation, their focus has shifted to the Enterprise.

Even their own COO complained that they haven’t innovated and app development has stagnated. Yes, Dropbox is still a strong player, but they are just one of many options for users to choose from. In fact, often times users aren’t “choosing” at all, instead using multiple cloud services simultaneously. This is good for competition and good for the end user.

The big boys have come to play

Google, Apple, and Microsoft have all made significant (and interesting) moves with their consumer cloud offerings. Long gone are the days of 3rd-party integrations with the likes of Dropbox or Box, instead they see the strategic value and are doing it themselves. “Unlimited” photos, uniform cross-platform experiences, and a more natively integrated cloud offering are becoming the trends.

There is a war for customer data, and the device manufacturers, network operators, and ISVs all want to own it. There is one thing in common here: for these companies the cloud is a piece of their strategy for both customer acquisition and retention. In all cases the cloud is used as a “loyalty card”; ensuring users come back again and again to buy more computers, more phones, more software.

“The cloud” is not a single app, instead a set of service offerings

Wikipedia lists 57 players in the consumer cloud sync and backup space. While not all of these are household names, many are finding their niche by targeting one specific user benefit and perfectly solving the problem: security, backup, share, or photos, for example.

What’s perhaps even more interesting is how many companies offer cloud storage only as a feature of a greater user experience. Almost every service has a cloud storage component, and often times the end user may not even consider it.

Take my mother for instance, who recently asked me how she can get “on the cloud”, although she is already using iCloud Photo Sharing almost daily. Facebook, Instagram, Basecamp, flickr, Evernote, even Walgreens Photo have cloud storage capability built in. Indeed “the cloud” is becoming a set of service offerings, not a single application silo.

All in all, it is becoming clear that the consumer cloud storage industry is dis-aggregating. What looked like a ten billion dollar war that was won in 2011 has become a multi-hundred billion dollar war that is just beginning.

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Sep 03 2015

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Cloud storage, CloudFS, Turn-key Drive

Bitcasa Sets the Bar Higher

For high-tech giants like Google and Amazon, using top-notch technology for software automation testing to help ensure product quality is routine. But for many startups in growth mode, this aspect of product development is either never considered or simply seen as aspirational.

Although we are a startup, product quality is a top priority at Bitcasa so QA automation is a requirement. For example, automation allows us to test application layers to make sure our APIs are working as designed. There is no other way to test the application layer effectively. If we only test from the UI level, it’s partial testing which is not an option for us.

Our QA Automation Team writes programs that simulate user behavior directly on the API layer. User interfacing software connects to a huge application later that users don’t see. By plugging requests into the APIs, we’re able to mimic user actions without touching the UI. This is a critical step to ensure Bitcasa partners and their customers get a high-quality user experience.

Performance, load and stress testing are part of our automation. Together, they help us to determine the health of our platform builds.

Performance tests:

It’s always a challenge to know precisely how many users simultaneously connect to Bitcasa and call APIs. To solve for this, we’ve created a program that simulates thousands of calls at the same time. The automation software generates thousands of calls coming from the UI to the application layer to measure speed of our traffic when we’re loaded. This helps us discover when the system slows down.

Load tests:

The load test makes sure our system can handle a certain amount of traffic. The number is determined from PRD. But rather than just running those numbers, our QA Automation Team might double or triple that number.

Stress tests:

Where does the system break? How many users can call in before there’s real trouble? The stress test is critical to complete the automation software testing. This is a different approach from the prior tests, so the goals are different and the results of the testing are different.

The success of our partners and the satisfaction level of their customers ultimately drives our business. That’s why we’ve committed to  state-of-the-art automation testing. And also why we hire QA engineers who are multi-skilled and understand all different platforms and productions, including iOS, Windows and mobile products. With our focus on recruiting top-notch engineers and product quality, our partners reap the benefits.


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Aug 24 2015

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Bitcasa Tech, Cloud storage

Selecting the Right Storage Configuration for your Customers

Cloud storage is a super-sticky way that companies can start creating an ecosystem that gives their customers a consistent experience, while maintaining their brand loyalty. But it needs to map to their customer needs. That’s where we come in. Bitcasa provides companies a choice in storage configuration.



The first way a partner can cloud-enable their product for their customers is by offering a secondary drive in the cloud that offers the freedom to use their cloud drive in any way they want. The dual drive concept can be thought of as a separate partition of your physical drive – one part on the device and one in the cloud.

Users can drag and drop items, directly save or upload items, delete items, or download data from or into their cloud drive. Simply put, users get additional storage in the cloud and they have the freedom to use that storage in the cloud as they see best.

The dual drive is a good choice for manufacturers of direct attached external drives like USB sticks and plug-in SSDs.


The second way partners offer their customers cloud storage is through the concept of an extended capacity drive.  Users see additional drive capacity that looks like part of the device’s physical storage. As a user fills up the on-board storage, any additional data they save gets automatically moved into the cloud, without errors warning them that they are out of space.

For example, imagine your latest smartphone having 1TB of storage. 64GB is the on-board flash storage and the remaining is in the cloud. You turn on camera backup of your photos, and as you near the end of the 64GB of on-board storage, your photos start saving to the cloud seamlessly.

Bitcasa employs smart caching and offloading algorithms, that saves photos to the cloud without any disruption to the user. For a partner this reduces their BOM cost and they’re able to offer a better value for their money to their customers, while leap-frogging the competition in terms of price.

This configuration is ideal for internal SSDs on laptops or SD cards on phones to prevent the device from running out of space.


The third configuration of cloud storage is a backup drive. With this product, users can select folders or drives on their device that they wish to keep backed up to the cloud. The Bitcasa backup drive solution automatically monitors for any changes and automatically backs up the changes to the cloud. Backed-up content is available for consumption through other devices, including desktop, mobile or web portal applications.

With this drive, partners can offer their end customers peace of mind because their data is always backed up in a secure manner using Bitcasa’s AES-256 bit private key encryption layers. And users can restore their data if their primary storage medium is lost or damaged.

The backup drive is best for NAS devices as an option for extra redundancy and for mobile carriers to keep phones backed up at all times.

As customers require more storage for their increasing data usage, the device economy needs to look to the cloud. But one size does not fit all. Solutions need to map directly to customer needs, which is why Bitcasa provides our partners with a choice.


Aug 17 2015

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Cloud storage

Bitcasa brings the cloud close to home

Bitcasa is in the process of developing a system that will increase API access speeds while keeping the end user’s data secure. Soon, more data will be closer than ever to a user’s home.

Bitcasa’s engineering team is working to bring the user’s metadata closer to their selected “home” region. By launching more of our infrastructure environments in more regions, we’re able to optimize a user’s experience through all file system interactions. For now, Bitcasa’s main operational zones are Asia, Europe and the United States. This means that Bitcasa partners could potentially have the ability to decide where to house their end user’s file metadata, respecting either the partner’s own business requirements or local government data retention regulations.

Bitcasa’s partners already benefit from the ongoing global deduplication of previously uploaded data, and soon will additionally benefit from a more configurable region aware set of storage heuristics. Choosing where to move the data around the world and when is an important and powerful way to maintain fast access to that data. These data locality rules don’t apply just to downloading, however. Being able to quickly detect what data is already in the system during an upload also decreases upload times fantastically.

These systems are critical for Bitcasa partners who want their end users to have a seamless experience interacting with their data. All this work builds towards a single point: Bitcasa’s infrastructure is represented as our partners’ infrastructure, local to the region (or regions) our partners are known to be efficient in. This allows our partners’ storage offerings to seem like it’s a locally served product with speeds that are impressive even when users roam outside of their home region during travel.

These innovations – user’s “home” regions, global file data dedupe, and managed locality of file data – come together in Bitcasa’s Turnkey platform, all while simultaneously increasing speed of the data access and respecting the user’s privacy of data.

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Aug 04 2015

Bitcasa Tech, Cloud storage, Turn-key Drive

At Bitcasa, even we can’t see your data. And we prefer it that way.

Here at Bitcasa, we’ve been talking about our unique ‘zero knowledge storage’ platform for years. Thanks to AES-256 encryption with a private key based on a user’s unique password, no one (not even Bitcasa employees) can access the data stored on our servers.

This is how all cloud storage services must work, right? Not so fast. Google’s “Photos” service for example has a much different take:

“When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.” Source:

So Google (and those Google works with) reserves the right to “publicly display” my family photos? Yikes.

At Bitcasa, we understand that to many people, storing files on a remote “cloud” somewhere can be a bit unsettling. This is exactly why we designed Bitcasa as a zero knowledge system. User files are just that: the property of the user. At Bitcasa, we can’t open any files and we can’t even associate an encrypted file with a particular user. We’re blind, and so are would-be hackers. And we like it that way. This is perhaps the most core piece of our patent-pending technology and a big differentiation in the cloud storage software market.

So what does this mean for our Turn-key Drive partners and CloudFS API developers?

The same rules apply. Bitcasa partners and developers can tell their customers with confidence that their data can’t be accessed by anyone, not even Bitcasa employees. Their customers’ photos and important documents are their own. We are simply storing this data safely on their behalf in a secure vault. We respect that privacy, and by selecting Bitcasa, our partners can let their end-users know that they respect their privacy, too.

How does it work, exactly? When a user uploads files to Bitcasa, they are encrypted with a key based off of that user’s password. Bitcasa does not store this key on our servers. When a user logs onto Bitcasa and enters their unique password to start a session, Bitcasa uses that password to decrypt their files – images, data, anything stored in the cloud. But once the user closes that session, their data is no longer accessible. No one at Bitcasa, or anywhere else for that matter, can unencrypt that data.

In an age where privacy and security are becoming more and more important to end-users, it only seems natural that the “right” storage philosophy puts the end-user’s privacy first. Bitcasa has believed in this from day one.

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Jul 31 2015

Cloud storage, CloudFS, Security, Turn-key Drive


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Jul 20 2015

Cloud storage, Turn-key Drive Video

Watch CloudFS in action

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Jul 20 2015

Cloud storage, CloudFS Video

New API Documentation Portal

Check out the great features of our new API Documentation Portal:

  • Easy 3-column interface
  • Interactive API documentation
  • Multiple languages
  • Complete code examples for each language
  • Responsive layout
  • Code examples based on practical use-cases



Jul 20 2015