Cloud storage company Box has brought its enterprise service to Android phones ahead of this week’s Google I/O Conference, as it looks to build on the growing use of mobile shared data by businesses. Guy Daniels reports.
Box, the secure content sharing platform that was created in 2005, has expanded its service to support interoperability with Android devices. Unlike its more consumer-focused peers, such as Dropbox, Box has always been more business-friendly. This announcement will bring its OneCloud service – described by the company as “the first mobile cloud for the enterprise” – to Android devices, building on its earlier iOS support.
Box OneCloud features 50 new Android app integration partners, who will join the existing 50 iOS app integrations. Interestingly, only 11 of the initial batch of Android apps also have iOS versions, highlighting the difference between the two platforms.
Aaron Levie, co-founder and CEO of Box, explains that the service seeks to unify business content across apps, tablets and smartphones in a single, secure location:
“Box OneCloud offers the most complete suite of productivity tools for today's post-PC enterprise. The way people work is radically changing. With Box, IT departments and the mobile workforce now have a unified platform to securely manage applications and content from any device or location.”
The 50 new Android app integrations are available now, and include leading productivity services from iAnnotate, Breezy, Docusign Ink and Fetchnotes. Box is also introducing a new OneCloud SDK for Android to help developers build app integrations with Box.
One of the early users of the service is the City of Columbia in Missouri, USA. Robert Simms, IT director, wanted a more effective way to provide crucial public services to the city’s 100,000 residents:
“Mobile devices – especially tablets – are becoming necessary to provide answers, complete inspections and give surveys.
This only works if the employee has access to the most up-to-date information. We’re a city government looking to become more efficient at providing services to citizens.”
And so the city entered and won a competition organised by Box, netting 20 Samsung Galaxy Tabs with Box enterprise accounts as its prize. As a result, Simms and is now the poster boy for Box OneCloud:
“City employees meeting with businesses and citizens across the area must have access to important documents at any time, from their Android devices. Box OneCloud ensures that we can be productive anywhere and focus on managing essential city matters that greatly improve the lives and business opportunities of our residents.”
The service is enterprise friendly because of the encryption that gets added. Shared files are encrypted when they leave the Box service and are unencrypted by the relevant partner app. The process is then reversed when files have been edited on the app and are saved back to Box.
Chris Yeh, Box’s head of platform, told the Mashable website that the new Android app has already been downloaded 2.5 million times, and is currently downloaded 10-20 thousand times per day:
“We have some pretty dramatic shifts happening in our customer base. Thirty-five percent of our users are mobile-only and have never accessed Box using a laptop or PC.”
Back in April, when Google launched its Google Drive cloud storage solution, Aaron Levie had this to say about the increasing use of cloud collaboration within companies.
“Our belief is that the enterprise space, ultimately, is going to be a much larger market than the consumer category. The vast majority of businesses are dealing with a changing technology paradigm (shift from on-premise to cloud), we’re experiencing an influx of new web-connected devices, we’re collaborating across nearly every business process within and beyond our organizations, we want technologies to work together and cater better to end users, and we’re dealing with more data creation within organizations than ever before.”
Box says it has more than 11 million users across 120,000 businesses, including 82 per cent of the Fortune 500. It is heavily backed by VCs, having raised around $162m to date.
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