Box.net Leads the Way to Embracing Mobile Diversity
By Tony Bradley, PCWorld
Box.net–a cloud storage and collaboration provider–understands that it is a diverse mobile world, and that part of what makes a service like Box.net valuable is the ability to access data from anywhere and from virtually any device or platform. To fulfill that goal, Box.net has launched new Android tablet, BlackBerry PlayBook, and HTML5 browser-based tools.
The new tools are part of a philosophy Box.net is embracing called “Mobile Ubiquity”. In a blog post on Inside the Box, the official Box.net blog, co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie declares that 2011 represents a milestone in the adoption of mobile computing as a business tool–and that with that adoption comes tacit acceptance of the consumerization of IT and a diverse collection of mobile devices.
A recent report from Forrester Research claims, “We now live and always will live in a multi-device world, where companies and consumers choose different smartphone and tablet platforms and expect to get apps on all of them.”
Levie agrees. “Enterprises that are embracing mobility also have to embrace platform diversity, as employees want to have access to tools and content from the devices of their choice. The future of enterprise mobility won’t be owned by any one platform, and we’re investing aggressively to deliver an unparalleled experience across all devices in a way that platform-committed vendors like Microsoft fundamentally cannot.”
I have repeatedly made similar points about Microsoft. Microsoft has made some strides and concessions when it comes to working with mobile and desktop platforms outside of its own, but for the most part Microsoft tools are Microsoft-centric. Microsoft could have a much larger impact on computing in general if it focused more on developing applications that work across diverse platforms rather than painting customers into a Microsoft-centric corner.
The introduction of an HTML5 app also gives Box.net a tool for more consistent and universal cross-platform access. Creating apps for iPhone, iPad, Android smartphones, Android tablets, Windows Phone 7, Windows desktops, Mac OS X, and other platforms requires a lot of resources to develop, maintain, and support. However, an app that just works from the browser can theoretically work from any of those platforms and only requires developing, maintaining, and supporting a single tool.
Like Amazon with the launch of the Kindle Cloud Reader, though, Box.net is not planning to abandon the other apps. It is a step to realize the goal of “Mobile Ubiquity”, and possibly a stepping stone for the future, but for now Box.net will continue to focus on providing native app options for major platforms as well.