Cloud storage player Box plans to split revenues with the developers writing apps for its storage and collaboration platform.
Box is focused on business customers rather than consumers, since that’s where the money is, and it is outstripping the efforts of chief competitor Dropbox.
In the past few years, Box has been augmenting its platform with third-party apps. But while there’s money to be made in storage, turning business users onto new apps can prove tough. “Most enterprises still buy en masse through an IT or procurement process that requires a dedicated sales force on the other end — a non-starter for most small app companies,” explained Chris Yeh, vice president of platform at Box.
To ensure the developer ecosystem thrives, the Silicon Valley-based company wants to help developers make money through their applications. So today it announced a new program dubbed “Box $rev.”
It’s not clear yet how much developers will make through the revenue-share program. Box still needs to test the idea and just signed on 10 partners to pilot the program. But anyone who is interested can join up now.
In addition to the revenue share, Box can also help by introducing these third-party products to IT departments, which often results in a direct purchase of the app.
Box has a vested interest in supporting these developers; their research has shown that companies are more satisfied when they can freely add and use third-party apps.
“We probably will never build the best health care app or the best construction blue print,” said Yeh by phone. But the external developer community can, and this is helping Box push into tricky new verticals, like health care.
The company, led by 28 year old CEO Aaron Levie (pictured above), recently raised $150 million in venture capital.
It realized early on the importance of the developer ecosystem for web and mobile. Since last year, it has been improving its API to streamline the integration process. And in April 2012, it launched its OneCloud program, which helps keep files synchronized even when using third-party smartphone apps.
From today, Box’s community will benefit from the new software developer kits for iOS and Android. These SDKs allow developers to integrate Box using pre-built file pickers and buttons.
Indeed, Box is under severe pressure to step up its own offering for developers.
Developers have been using Dropbox’s API for years and creating some seriously cool applications for the consumer market. Among them, Site44, which can turn your folders into websites, and DropVox, which lets you record voice memos and save them to Dropbox. But these developers of consumer-facing apps have an easier time making money; many will simply charge users $1.99 or more for the app.