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Dropbox rolled out There email application Mailbox

Dropbox Mailbox

Dropbox has come of age and from cloud storage it is now moving in another direction, possibly an app-focused one.

Dropbox rolled out the desktop version of its email application Mailbox, possibly a precursor to more apps. Dropbox is testing the waters with this beta desktop version. Existing iphone and Android user can get what the company calls a betacoin and pass on the desktop version to a friend. A feedback mechanism is built into betacoin to help developers modify it according to user responses. This is in keeping with the Company’s approach to delivering customer-centric services. Design is the crux of Dropbox evolutions according to Gentry Underwood, head of design and co-founder of Orchestra. Orchestra is a 13 member group that Dropbox acquired for a reported $ 100 million way back in March 2013 just to acquire Mailbox. Dropbox adopted Mailbox core approaches. Essentially simple, it embodies making the user experience better and less full of hassles by adopting an app based dedicated approach. This should expectedly earn it customer loyalty and retention.

Dropbox currently has over 300 million users served by 500 employees. Its growth is phenomenal and it has acquired another building in South Of Market District of San Francisco to address growing demands. From solely cloud storage Dropbox is diversifying to address basic issues and important requirements of users. Users will have to log in through Dropbox to access Mailbox and its future offerings, thus boosting its usage and user base. Dropbox aims to be the landing stage for digital information. Mailbox is just the starting point to the introduction of a number of apps that will turn Dropbox into something resembling Facebook, where users interact, share files and photos and carry on messaging. In April 2013 Dropbox laid the foundations with the launch of Carousel that allows automatic upload of photos snapped with smartphones to a user’s Dropbox account and view it from anywhere on any device. To address issues that arose out of this service Dropbox introduced a smartphone app. Instead of an umbrella solution Dropbox aims to introduce dedicated apps that will be compact and more effective. This rebuts Steve Jobs statement that Dropbox is more like a feature, not a product, a statement he made in 2009 and one which the company is out to disprove. It is well placed to do so with over $ 1.1 billion in cash and an IPO in the works valued at $ 10 billion. It does face tough competition from Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple, all of whom have lowered prices for cloud storage services. Dropbox is adopting the design approach to stay ahead and establish its own unique mystique of delivering services that the giants cannot at the moment. Eventually they will but by then Dropbox should have earned loyalty from customers. Carousel and Mailbox are multi-platform apps that are also device independent, a feature in which Dropbox is as yet unmatched by Google or Apple who are dedicated to their own operating systems. By delivering smooth, highly functional and integrated solutions Dropbox plans to stay ahead. The basic design philosophy “it just works” forms the company’s motto and it plans to build on it with the help of a team of superb designers headed by Underwood a former IDEO designer and co founder of Orchestra. Taking a leaf out of smartphone design and functionality, Underwood and his team have introduced the vital quality of intuitiveness to Dropbox making it easy to use even for those not familiar with computers and their complexity. Underwood justified Orchestra’s merging with Dropbox since both have these essential approaches to design resolving usability. Mailbox is a perfect example since it blends in so seamlessly with existing features of Dropbox. Carousel also has the same quality though it may not have the same design style. Underwood and his team have achieved a perfect balance by creating very focused apps for specific purposes while integrating them into the overall umbrella of Dropbox, making matters simple and intuitive, the two basic qualities for success in apps. Take an existing concept, turn it inside out yet not so that it confuses users but rather enthuses them and make it intuitive is a mantra that is working like a charm.

From another direction Stewart Butterfield, co-founder of Flickr and Slack, an office communications service, reflects this design philosophy about app design and development. According to him, design does make a difference by giving users something they wanted subconsciously but were unable to define. Apple did it its inimitable style and results are there for everyone to see. DeVincensi of Underwood’s team did remark that this approach does impose constraints even as it delivers better user experience but the accent is on a defined approach to develop a compact yet feature rich app, an approach integrated into Mailbox for desktop. People may not remember it but Clarisworks from Apple stables, way back in the time of Windows 3.1, was more compact, easy to install and easier to use than the then or present Microsoft Office suite. However, that is essentially what Dropbox team of designers are focusing on: compact apps with specific functions rather than bloatware with features most people will not use or like.

Mailbox and Carousel are in the lead for Dropbox but the company will have to intro similar focused apps. Probably the areas they will approach and address will relate to online collaboration where apps will sync regardless of device or OS. It could just as well be a communication tool aimed at business customers primarily and then general users. Also in the works are plans to bring real time file changes to Office documents through collaboration with Microsoft in a project dubbed Project Harmony. While keeping individual users in mind Dropbox is also equally concentrated on enterprise segment, which is where the money is. Dropbox seeks to deliver better value for enterprise customers that would help them go ahead in a competitive race and thus stay loyal. Dropbox takes a long look at the current mess that various services and solutions create and will build focused apps usable on desktops and smartphones with equal ease and with the least hassles, something customers will love.

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