Box.Net, the content management provider founded in 2005, today announced the availability of their Android App on the Android marketplace. This is a free app which will let users access, share and manage their content from their Android devices. Box.Net already offer apps for iOS devices and the addition of Android devices is the next logical step. After all, Mobile is one of the big reasons for the very success of cloud computing.
While talking about Cloud Computing, many pundits argue that it is just an natural evolution from the traditional time sharing era. Instead, I tend to see Cloud Computing as a revolution because when I imagine cloud computing I just don’t think about the provider side of the equation (where it could be the next logical evolution) but also the access side. In my opinion, the proliferation of devices like the low cost laptops to netbooks to smartphones to today’s tablets coupled with the widespread availability of broadband through the pipes and airwaves, is the biggest reason for this huge takeoff of cloud based services. In this sense, cloud computing is a revolution and not just an evolution. The last couple of years ushered in smart mobile devices of all form factors that lead to more and more people (both individuals and businesses) using cloud based services. In fact, I would even dare to claim that mobile+cloud strategy offers competitive advantage to many organizations in the increasingly competitive business landscape.
Box.Net’s Mobile Strategy
Box.Net unveiled their mobile strategy in Sept. 2009 when they saw the success of iPhone and released OpenBox Mobile platform which allowed iPhone app developers to integrate Box.Net cloud storage with their apps. This allowed iPhone users to easily collaborate with their colleagues by storing the business content on Box.Net cloud. They followed it up with Box.Net’s own iPhone app in the early part of 2010 and also enhanced their OpenBox mobile API offerings which allowed the app developers to let their users search content stored in the Box.Net cloud from the app’s own search function. Once iPad gained traction, they also released their iPad app. Recently, they also announced offline support for their iOS apps. They already had more than 200K iOS downloads. With today’s announcement about Android support, they are expanding their mobile strategy with an aim to position themselves at the center of cloud collaboration. With 4 Million users and a quarter Billion files stored in their cloud, a good mobile strategy becomes all the more important. They told me that RIM app is also in their roadmap.
Box.Net’s Android App and Why Android matters
The Android App released by Box.Net today is more versatile than their app on iOS devices. The app allows users to
- Browse through the files and folders
- Preview files including documents, media files and web documents
- Share files and folders with other collaborators through email
- Seamlessly search for files and sort through any relevance
- Upload files directly from the Android device. This feature is currently lacking in their iOS apps because of Apple’s restrictions on file systems
In fact, even before they released their Android app, 20% of all the access to their mobile web app (at m.box.net) came from Android devices. Clearly, Android is gaining lot of traction in the business landscape and a proper Android strategy is crucial to the success of cloud providers like Box.Net.
Aaron Levie, CEO of Box.Net, explained to me about one advantage they see with Android platform and how they are going to put it to use in the coming days. Since Android is more open and built to cater to the needs of users who are more comfortable with search, it is possible to integrate the content search in Box.Net cloud directly to Android’s native search itself. This feature may even be made available within the next 30 days. Aaron told me that once the app is out in the market, they are going to be aggressively rolling out more and more features to the app.
Talking to Aaron and many other Android developers, I could see the excitement among the developers towards the Android platform. Its openness and the ability to push updates without going through the censor board Apple’s approval process is a huge factor in their excitement. Add to it the access to device’s file system and the ease with which trust relationships can be built between applications leading to deeper integrations, Android clearly blows away as an ideal platform for mobile app developers. The fact that it is open source only makes it even sweeter for developers. Now that Google has understood the consequences of mindless fragmentation of the platform and started taking remedial steps, we are going to see more and more adoption of Android platform. Just Ask Matt Asay and he will tell you.
The mobile platform wars are heating up and it is important for cloud service providers to have a clear mobile strategy. Box.Net clearly recognize this need and they are positioning themselves to take advantage of the mobile platforms. With Android getting both user adoption and developers’ attention, it is going to be the mobile platform of the future (unless Apple dramatically reverse their strategy) and cloud providers should focus more on that platform. What do you think?
Related articles by Zemanta
- Box.net Expands Mobile Platform with App for Android (prweb.com)
- Cloud Storage Startup Box.net Launches Android App; BlackBerry App In The Works (techcrunchit.com)
- Cloud Storage Startup Box.net Launches Android App; BlackBerry App In The Works (techcrunch.com)
- Box.net arrives on Android devices (news.cnet.com)
- 15+ Enterprise Apps for Android (readwriteweb.com)