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Box boosts Android clients, continues Windows Phone snub

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Updated: Box is enhancing the Android clients for its cloud-based storage service in a plan that makes Android first among equals in smartphone and tablet OSes.

Box, formerly known as, is one of several companies — including fan-favorite Dropbox as well as Microsoft(s msft), and Google(s goog) — competing to store your digital paraphernalia — Word documents, presentations, photographs, whatever — in the cloud and make it accessible from your devices of choice.

A big part of the update is the facelift Box gave virtually all Android clients. “We worked closely with Google to build a modern interface using Google’s Ice Cream Sandwich principles. That Android 4 UI will run cross all Android clients,” said Matthew Self, VP of platform engineering for Box. (Ice Cream Sandwich is Google’s name for the latest Android smartphone OS.)

Given the number of Android flavors in the field — every carrier has its own — and different versions of each, that single UI claim is no small feat. Self estimates there are easily hundreds of device-Android combinations out there.

Also new to Android: Users will be able to upload multiple files in batch mode and in background and can invite collaborators to work on  a document from their device. And, they can comment on these documents from their phones, Self said.

While Box supports a wide variety of non-Android devices–including Apple(s aapl)  iPhones and iPads, RIM’s(s rimm) Blackberry and Blackberry Playbook, even HP’s(s hpq) defunct TouchPad — Android appears to be the favorite.

“Android has eclipsed iPhone on the phone side and it’s growing fast in tablets.  There are a lot of Android phones coming into the enterprise,” Self said. He cited Gartner numbers showing Android with 50 percent of the smartphone market, Apple iOS with 25 percent and Microsoft with just 2 percent — a number he does not think will improve much.

That explains why Box offers no native Windows Phone support at all, although an HTML5 browser-based client runs on most devices. Self discounted the ability of Microsoft to gain significant market share in smartphones even though the new Windows Phone Mango OS has been well reviewed.

Update: A Box spokesman wrote in to clarify the company’s position on Windows Phone. He said:

At Box, we want to make it dead simple for our users to share and collaborate on business content from any device. We’ve invested aggressively in building amazing experiences on iOS and Android because those are the platforms our customers are using, but we’re always tracking adoption and demand, and will support Windows when we see it get traction in the organizations we serve.

With the updated Android clients comes support for four new languages — French, Italian, German, and Spanish– so Box is no longer an English-only experience.  The company will show off its new offerings next week at the Global World Congress in Barcelona.

It’s becoming clear that Box is banking on Android at the expense of Windows Phone and even Apple’s popular devices. The fact that Microsoft’s SkyDrive and  Apple’s iCloud cloud storage services could be considered Box competitors might be a motivating factor.

Still, given RIM’s Blackberry woes, the continued fragmentation of the Android market and the worry that Google’s acquisition of Motorola is causing rival handset makers –all of which could help Microsoft’s smartphone efforts– this looks like a risky move.

8 Responses to “Box boosts Android clients, continues Windows Phone snub”

  1. H. Murchison


    Android has eclipsed the iPhone. Android is an Operating System iPhone is a smartphone. The correct comparison would have been Android versus iOS which then changes things considerably when we include iPads and even iPod Touch.

    I don’t mind companies shilling for a product so long as they are rooted in reality. I’m totally happy that box gave me 50GB for free but that’s still not going to change the inevitable. The Cloud is simply not going to be dominated by small companies. Dropbox, Box, SugarSync and more will all be consumed or fail as Apple, Microsoft and even Google continues to promulgate their own home grown cloud strategies. There is no room for smaller companies that don’t own their platforms.

    • Bruno Skiba

      Yes and no.
      I have the free accounts on Box, Skydrive, Dropbox, but I paid for storage on Google.
      Google was significantly cheapest and shared my cloud storage pool with GMail, Docs, Picasa.

      That said, I use Box the most because it’s the easiest; I have a PC client, a Linux client, an Android client, and I can easily access my account via browser no matter where I am.
      That convenience is spectacularly customer-focused and something sadly missing from Google.
      iCloud seems to be the closest to Box but I don’t think I’ll see anywhere near the variety of supported devices.
      MS/Skydrive has an Win7 client (MS dropped XP support), an iPhone client, but no Android support (forget about linux support).
      And Google’s cloud storage is sadly disjointed; you can use your pool of storage with Google docs and GMail and to store photos/graphics on Picasa but nothing’s well… connected.

      I’d seriously love more storage on Box but for me, it’s just too expensive for the amount they offer.
      I honestly can’t justify it as a home user.
      As a business tool, Dropbox has some significant features, but again, too expensive for the home user.

      Does this mean that the smaller fish will be eaten up by MS, Apple, and Google?
      If Google were smart, and for the most part they are, they should swallow up Box immediately and have them be the front-end to Google’s cloud. Box is simply a fantastic product.

    • Bruno Skiba

      Just wanted to correct my previous post:

      DROPBOX has the free clients for Windows (including XP) Mac, Linux, Android, and I assume iOS devices (don’t have one currently.)
      Box does have some great features but again, no desktop client without a paid account (BOOOO!)
      (All I can say is that it was a long day and I was tired… I got my boxes mixed up… sorry, my bad.)
      And BTW, some of us don’t have $150 per year to blow on cloud storage. If you’re a business then by all means, go for it, it sounds great. I’m looking at it from a home user’s perspective.

      PS: I also just got the 50GB free upgrade from Box, which is sweet, just not as functional as my Dropbox account.
      PPS: SkyDrive, you should be ashamed of yourself… just because you’ve conveniently “forgotten” about windows xp doesn’t mean it’s still not in use.

      • Jon Burke

        $150/year is $12.50/month. You spend a lot more than that at Starbucks! ;) Just sayin’. Free mobile apps, free desktop sync application, and allows you to actually SEND files.