Box preps Windows Phone app, strikes deal with Qualcomm

The company expects the moves to boost mobile adoption of its enterprise cloud storage and collaboration service

Box plans to announce a new application for the Windows Phone OS and a partnership with Qualcomm, moves that it hopes will boost adoption of its cloud storage and file-sharing service on mobile devices.

The application for Windows Phone 7.5 adds another mobile platform for Box, which already has versions for iOS, Android, HP webOS and BlackBerry devices.

"We've spent a lot of time getting the user experience right," said Chris Yeh, Box's vice president of platform.

The Windows Phone application will take advantage of the operating system's tile-based interface to let users do things like pin "live" tiles to the phone's Start screen that display updates and notifications.

The application will also let users upload images and videos in batches, share files and folders as links, post comments and search for content.

Having a native mobile application for Windows Phone is a logical step, since Microsoft Office file types are the most common ones stored in its service, Yeh said.

When those documents are opened on a Windows Phone device they're rendered better than in devices running other mobile OSes, particularly in the case of complex files, he said.

Although Windows Phone has a small market share, it is interesting to enterprises because many are invested in Microsoft software, especially now with the new version, Windows Phone 8, in the works, he said.

Windows Phone 8 will offer more compatibility with the upcoming Windows 8 OS for tablets and PCs than previous versions have with past Windows releases.

Box plans to also release a version of its application for Windows Phone 8 once that OS becomes available, he said.

Technology advances could allow Box to provide its cloud service via mobile browsers, but for now the company believes it needs native mobile applications.

The Qualcomm deal, meanwhile, calls for the chip maker to recommend to device manufacturers that use its Snapdragon chipset that they pre-load the Box application in their Android tablets and smartphones.

In addition to the Box mobile application, the Box package would include 50G bytes of free cloud storage and a set of third-party mobile productivity applications that are integrated with the Box service as part of the company's OneCloud initiative.

Qualcomm will also recommend the Box bundle to makers of Windows Phone 8 devices that use the Snapdragon chipset, Yeh said.

The deal could triple the number of annual installs of the Box Android application, which has been downloaded 2.2 million times since its launch in September 2010, he said.

Box, whose cloud service is designed for enterprise users to store, share and collaborate on files, as well as do document and content management, offers free and fee-based versions of its product.

The Box service is used in 120,000 businesses, including 92 percent of the Fortune 500, and by 11 million users, 40 percent of whom tap it from mobile devices. Customers include Dell, Procter & Gamble, ESPN, Gap, Kohl's and Discovery Networks.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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