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April 10, 2014

Dropbox wants to be ingrained in your smartphone

Cloud storage firm prepares to personalise your phone with a flurry of apps.

By Joe Curtis

File-sharing firm Dropbox has plans to unveil an array of apps that manage people’s calendar, address book and to-do lists as it tries to use customer data to personalise its services, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

The cloud storage company has just released Carousel, its photo-sharing app that automatically backs up pictures and videos to a Dropbox account as you take them.

The app is one example of how Dropbox is diversifying its offering from its initial "magic folder" storage, according to the official company blog.

A post from founders Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi reads: "As we’ve built Dropbox and seen how it’s helped millions around the world, that magic folder has become something much more – a home for life.

Carousel Dropbox

Carousel, Dropbox’s picture-sharing app, from its website

"Carousel lets you share and relive these memories in private conversations with friends and family."

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But Bloomberg cited senior execs as saying that Carousel is just the first step into new territory for the company as it plans to launch flurry of phone productivity apps in the coming months.

"You should set up Dropbox on your device and that device should become yours – your contacts, your apps, and apps that talk to your data," it quoted vice president of engineering Aditya Agarwal as saying.

The overall strategy is termed "Chapter 2" inside the company, and comes at a time when other cloud storage providers like Google and Microsoft are catching up to Dropbox’s early growth by charging less for storage.

Google Drive is already one of several Google apps that integrate with one another, but Dropbox’s changes appear to be geared towards the enterprise market.

Quartz writes: "The idea, which has helped Dropbox grow its revenue without a big salesforce, is that consumers want to use the same services they already use at work to store data and files on."

That would explain upgrades including remote wipe, account transfer and audit logs, as well as the recent separation of business and personal accounts.

Yesterday it also announced that Dropbox for Business, first revealed last November, is now open for all, and enables users to connect the aforementioned professional and personal accounts.

The firm raised $250m at a January funding round, and estimates place its current investment funding at up to $657m.

Its business release comes weeks after its enterprise rival Box, which filed for a $250m IPO late last month, released Box View and Metadata.

The updates enable developers and business customers to build apps for the "information economy", as well as introducing platform pricing for companies wishing to build on Box’s APIs.

Founder Aaron Levie claimed more than 35,000 developers are currently building on the Box platform, while use of third-party apps has increased 292% over the last year.

He added: "Every business in the world today is transitioning from legacy solutions to cloud services that help their workforce be more agile.

"This presents a significant market opportunity for entrepreneurs and developers to create a new generation of software and Box has the opportunity to be the platform that powers this ecosystem."

Dropbox claims it has 275 million users, up from 200 million in November. In comparison, Box boasts 25 million registered users, but claims to count 40% of the Fortune 500 as customers.

Of the 225,000 companies using its services just 34,000 currently pay.

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