After its Folders acquisition, a big iOS update affirms Box’s position as “cloud meets mobile”

Jan 16, 2014
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Box released an update to its iPhone & iPad app this week which the company hopes will make its users more efficient with the way they collaborate, communicate & work on mobile. The company currently offers 50Gb of free storage to all users who sign up (of which the company currently has 20 Million), with its 200,000 clients including 97% of the Fortune 500.

The company, which sees itself as “Cloud meets Mobile,” owes in large part its revamped experience to an acquisition of the yet-to-be-launched “Folders” startup, which it made in May of 2013. After the acquisition, founder Martin Destagnol, who says that during the process of building Folders, conversations with Box led him to realize that the two companies shared a similar vision with regards to document management & viewing on Mobile, came on board as Head of Mobile Engineering. His goal was to create the best UX for mobile apps, and, specifically, to make doing work on Mobile as easy (if not easier) than doing work on a PC.

Making Little Things Amazing

The new iOS app is pretty slick – Destagnol was quick to boast the little optimizations the company had made to make little things amazing. For example, the app allows users to preview most file types (more than 100 according to the video), including Powerpoint presentations – the rendering engine for Powerpoint is optimized for iOS to look like what the presentation will look like, with modifications made to adapt to the screen size & format. In addition, Box has opted out of Apple’s default data-storage method made available to iOS developers in favor of their down data storage protocol, which Destagnol says helps to load images faster by loading low resolutions versions immediately and overlaying progressively higher resolutions as they load. The above video also shows off the realistic page-turning mechanism which makes viewing documents more natural.

Butting heads with Project Management, Enterprise Social media & more

Looking at the applications features – the ability to collaborate on documents, communicate to coworkers around them, etc. – I couldn’t help feel that Box is undermining some fairly old industries like Project Management Software, as well as some more recent ones, like Enterprise Social Media. While the app’s integration with Box’s OneCloud marketplace, which features 850+ apps, may allow users to stretch their use of Box into other industries, it seems that as Box continues to build its ecosystem of Cloud meets Mobile, it will slowly eat away at the 3rd party apps which initially hoped to build on top of file-sharing apps.

Box will always encourage 3rd party partners to integrate with its system, and anyone building B2B enterprise software has a big incentive to do so, given Box’s clientèle; however, unlike Dropbox, it is clear that Box isn’t just about file-sharing. And as it builds itself beyond file-sharing into the “getting work done on the go” mantra that the company has adopted, it is clear that some partners won’t be able to compete against Box’s native features.