Mobile

Cloud storage provider Box.net: Build your apps on top of us

Cloud storage provider Box.net is unveiling a new set of code libraries that will let app developers quickly embed the company’s storage and collaboration tools into their apps, the company announced today.

“We have 40 developers building that back-end stack, and people want to be able to deploy that instantly into their applications,” said Aaron Levie, chief executive of Box.net. “Developers don’t want to have to manage the user management, the access controls and the storage — they want to be able to write on top of a layer.”

The company hired Chris Yeh (pictured right), who was the product head for Yahoo Groups, Delicious, Contacts and several other social programs at Yahoo! Before taking over the social programs, he was the head of developer relations for Yahoo. The company is doubling down on developer relations because it wants to be a provider of back-end storage software that any developer can add to an app, Levie said.

Box.net is also launching a developer contest that challenges mobile app developers to write an enterprise application that uses Box.net’s storage and collaboration tools. The winners will be announced at the company’s first conference, which will be held in September. Again, the company was trying to promote the idea of using Box.net as a back-end provider of storage tools that developers can use for their enterprise apps.

That seems like it’s the direction the company is headed. One of the company’s larger real estate clients built a customer relationship management (CRM) application from scratch using Box.net as the back-end storage and collaboration component, Levie said. Most companies opt to license CRM software from companies like Salesforce.com.

“The core focus of Box is really to be an open platform,” he said.

(Normally I’m against companies using the term “platform” because it’s overused and misunderstood. But in this case it’s the right context.)

Box.net currently has 6 million users. Some 60,000 businesses employ its cloud-storage software, including 73 percent of Fortune 500 companies. That figure is up from around 66 percent in February. It raised $48 million in its most recent round of funding. Box.net is also expanding to a new office in the next several weeks.

As of January, the Box.net iPad application had been downloaded more than 250,000 times. The company launched its Android application in the fourth quarter of 2010 and already has 70,000 downloads. Box.net is working with Samsung specifically to further develop its application on Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab.


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