Box.net Adding Support for the Android to Mobile Platform
Box.net (newssite) sees mobile as the next big distrupter for enterprise content management. If you didn't know that before, today's news should bring it home. The cloud-based content management provider has just announced a Box.net app for the Android.

Android Platform is Getting Pretty Popular 

A recent comScore report tells us that the Android is picking up speed in the battle for mobile supremacy, at least in the US. While still behind Apple and RIM, the Android mobile platform is doing very well. The share of smartphone subscribers who used the Android rose from 12% in April 2010, to 17% in July 2010, well ahead of Microsoft and Palm.

SmartphonePlatformUsage.jpg

comScore Smartphone Platform Market Share

Now do these numbers tell us anything about mobile usage in the enterprise? Not directly. But what we do know is that more people are using their personal mobile devices for business purposes, which means organizations don't have the luxury of only supporting one type of device/platform. 

Up until recently, most news that focused on mobile support in enterprise applications has focused on the iPhone, iPad and Blackberry. But that's starting to change.

Box Goes Mobile on Android

Box is not the first content management vendor we have heard pledge support for the Android (Open Text just announced that they would provide an Android App in the future). But they are the first -- that we know of -- to actually offer an Android App.

Available now, the Box App for Android supports Android OS 2.0 and up (eg. HTC Droid Incredible, Motorola Droid X and Samsung’s Galaxy S series) and it's free. It offers these features out of the gate:

  • Browse through files and folders;
  • Preview files, including documents, media files and Web documents;
  • Share Box links to files and folders via email;
  • Search for files and sort results by relevance, date updated, file size and name;
  • Upload files stored on your Android device.

Box for Android - App Options.jpg

Aaron Levie, CEO for Box.net told us that they focused heavily on the search capability, ensuring that the search was fully comparable to the content search you get on the website.

An Android Mobile API for OpenBox

In addition to the Android App, Box is also working hard to offer an Android mobile API for OpenBox Mobile platform so that third party app developers can access and update business content from Box inside their own applications. Levie told us that they have already started some conversations in this area.

Box for Android - Search Feature.jpg

Different Apps, Consistent Experience 

It must take a lot of organization to develop apps for four different platforms (iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, Android) -- actually Box doesn't have a Blackberry app yet, but it's coming sometime this fall). 

Levie said he liked the fragmentation in the mobile market and the flexibility that comes with it. He sees native apps as the preferred route, offering faster, richer experiences than a browser-based solution.

For Box, a single mobile project manager oversees all the mobile app development and they have one design team to ensure a consistent experience across all devices. Other than that, the development effort for each platform obviously requires different skills and thus, separate teams.

Let's Not Forget the SharePoint Angle

Of course, no conversation with Box ever ends without a little SharePoint chat. Levie outlined three things that he believes puts Box out in front:

  1. Simplicity
  2. OS Agnostic
  3. Open Platform

There are many who wouldn't argue with his logic. We'll leave it you to have that discussion today.