You can bet that Box boss Aaron Levie felt pinch-yourself good yesterday when he discovered that his company’s new iPhone and iPad app was No. 10 on the list of top (free) apps in the App store. It’s worth noting, that as of this writing the app is at No.9
For anyone who doesn’t understand how impressive this is, at that moment, it was more popular than Clash of Clans, Skype for iPad — and it rivaled Netflix. It’s astonishing when any kind of Enterprise app ever hits the top 50 list, let alone one that was created nine years ago by two guys who hadn’t yet finished college (Levie still hasn’t) and knew very little about the Enterprise world when they started.
Box claims a “founded in the dorm room” story that contains, within it, a sexy twist. The company’s co-founder, Dylan Smith provided the company with 20k in startup funding which he won gambling online. Both Levie and Smith have yet to hit 30.
A Windowless World
While we’ve already written about Box’s new app, we forgot to point out a few things. First, that something notable was missing from its introductory video—namely anything that looks like it was created on a Windows desktop, laptop or that uses Microsoft Office.
Levie’s fanboys certainly took note, spreading tweets like
RT @levie: Microsoft Research is the Xerox PARC of our time. Great innovations, but being commercialized by others far faster << Yep +1— Theo Priestley (@ITredux) January 17, 2014
@levie and soon to be the bell labs of our time?— jammasternate (@jammasternate) January 17, 2014
While Levie has almost always been on a mission to render Microsoft Office obsolete (save one heart-pattering moment),Box’s popularity in the AppStore today seems pivotal—earlier this year at TechCrunch Disrupt he told TechCrunch founder (and VC) Michael Arrington that technology is a binary business in which you’re either in or your out. If he’s right, than yesterday’s results clearly speak for themselves.
Take that, Clash of Clans and Hot or Not! pic.twitter.com/6jaepadYvd— Aaron Levie (@levie) January 16, 2014
Interesting Timing and a Sweet Offer
Speaking of in or out, on or off, last Friday evening Dropbox suffered a fairly significant outage and the core of the service, according to CNET, wasn’t fully restored until Sunday afternoon. The incident made national news and not exactly the kind you want at any time; but especially when you’re trying to establish yourself in the Enterprise space, which is what Dropbox is now trying to do.
Is it a coincidence, then, that Box came out with physically beautiful, perfectly functioning, radically revised apps just a few days later? Or that users who download the app in the next month, will be given 50 GB of free cloud storage? It’s ridiculously more than the 2GB Dropbox offers for free (note: more free storage is available if you refer users).
Box is clearly winning the world’s attention and keeping users from having much interest in waiting to see what Dropbox delivers when it stops working night and day to build out its business offering. Their marketing strategy, as far as we can tell, seems to center around selling Dropbox for Business to its current (consumer) user base. The pitch? “Soon, you'll be able to use your work and personal Dropboxes at the same time.”
Needless to say, it doesn’t matter if Dropbox is down.
Crossing the Chasm in the Enterprise World
Industry experts say that Box has a presence (authorized or not) in more than ninety percent of Enterprises; it’s probably safe to assume that many of them are not paid and are of the “Shadow IT” variety. That being said, in today’s world, users rule, and Box’s new UI and generous cloud storage offer is encouraging downloads at an unprecedented rate and will, no doubt, help the company grow its footprint in the Enterprise even faster.
And at this point, that’s what Levie and his team are probably after because they’re executing almost perfectly on Geoffrey Moore’s strategy on Crossing the Chasm.
Finally, it’s worth noting that File Sync and Share is not a zero sum game. Enterprise vendors like EMC Syncplicity and IBM have their own impressive and unique capabilities that are, in some cases, more suited to some industries than Box may be.
But for well-funded Box, at this point, none of that seems to matter. It’s counting on the exceptional user experience it has to offer (this includes both the UI and the 50 GB of storage, which should essentially let many of us to hoist things to the cloud without being choosy) to extend its leadership in the Enterprise space and to maximize the company’s value proposition as it moves toward an IPO.