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Summary:

The race for market share among cloud storage providers continues with some HP PCs now offering an easy on-ramp to Box.net’s cloud storage. But how much traction can a PC bundle get when most business users rely more and more on their mobile devices?

Box CEO Aaron Levie

The race for mind and market share among cloud storage providers continued with Monday’s news that some Hewlett-Packard PCs will come with an easy on-ramp to Box’s cloud storage service. But as cloud-storage startups court mobile-device-toting business users, how effective can a PC partnership really be?

With this latest deal, business users buying the HP Compaq 6200 or 6005 Pro Series or 8200 Elite Series PCs get a free Box account with 10 GB of cloud storage.

That gives Box entry into the SMB and enterprise business accounts targeted by these HP PC models. But at the same time Box competitors like Dropbox seem to have progressed beyond the PC to hotter-selling mobile devices. Last month Dropbox announced $250 million in funding to fuel its effort to integrate its technology into phones, cars and other devices.

Palo Alto, Calif.–based Box is trying to nurture an ecosystem of developers and other partners to validate its cloud offering. Last month, it formally announced its Box Innovation Network,  aka “/bin,” and $2 million in funding to encourage developers to build on Box APIs.

In October, Box CEO Aaron Levie previewed the network, saying that the company already had significant third-party support.

Our platform is already used by a couple thousand developers with 150 apps . . . we want to expand that. We want it to be dead simple to share and collaborate around your stored data . . . there is far too little innovation oriented towards enterprise software.

These deals show that the gap between slick consumer-oriented cloud storage and backup businesses and the more stodgy world of business storage is blurring with Dropbox, Box, Carbonite and Backblaze all in the mix.

EMC may have kicked off this whole frenzy when it bought Berkeley Data Systems and its popular consumer-oriented Mozy online data protection service in 2007. EMC subsequently turned the Mozy effort over to its VMware subsidiary. 

One thing is for sure: As heated as the cloud storage wars have gotten, with as many cloud storage players as there are out there, they will get hotter before they end.

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