Dear Drobo; Please Get Better

I remember a time when Drobo had a pretty much universal market share. Every photographer loved to compare their Drobo setups and proudly talk about them. They were easy, cost-effective, and excellent for photographers. But then competition popped up, and that competition did a fantastic job. On top of that, Drobo’s support seemingly took some LSD and drove itself off a cliff, never to be heard from again except in parting. With Drobo filing for Chapter 11, I hope they come back as a stronger company.

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If you haven’t been following what’s going on, Drobo has filed for bankruptcy protections. According to Apple Insider, part of it is citing the coronavirus and production delays. But I think that’s just the tipping point; the writing has been on the wall for years.

Transparently speaking, I own a Drobo 8D that the company gave us for review and let us keep. I use it every day and the storage bays are almost all packed with drives. It still annoys me at times.

This was bound to happen since a bunch of support over the past few years has fallen to the wayside. It majorly started to happen with changes to the new Apple Mac OS systems. When users needed to manually download firmware updates and apply them to their Drobos to get them to work, things seemed really odd. 

In 2015, Scott Kelby wrote about how he was done with Drobo and then amended the post in 2017 about how he came back to it. And he chronicles lots of the major problems like the proprietary system and not being able to use the drives in other RAIDs. Plus, he had to pay extra money for support because his Drobo was out of warranty. Problems like this have made photographers move on from Drobo to solutions from Pegasys and more.

So if they get their hands on enough supplies to keep up with product production, who will buy it? I’ve had multiple conversations with photographers that gave up on Drobo years ago because of a bunch of problems.

This is a weird situation. I want Drobo to change its ways, and clearly they need to because they’re not doing so great. But I also don’t want another manufacturer to take them over and buy them out. A lack of competition in the space is unhealthy for every manufacturer. 

Overall though, I just believe that Drobo will have a very hard time restructuring. When they get out of Chapter 11, they’ll need to find a way to be profitable. Then they’ll have to figure out a way to deal with all the competition on the market. On top of all that, they’re going to need to find a way to gain customer support back as well as the good saving graces of the press. They’re bound to do influencer marketing, but the bought media spend will only go so far. 

So what could Drobo do? I’m honestly not sure. But they’re bound to need to find ways to work with the more mobile-friendly world of creators out there. And they’re also going to need to find ways to make their products stand out even more. Maybe they could partner with Adobe or Capture One in some way.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.