Box buys Folders as its mini shopping spree continues

Box likes the design of the Folders app

Last week, Box continued its mini shopping spree. On the heels of buying Crocodoc, it purchased Folders, a company which up until now has produced an iOS app that lets you manage files across a variety of online storage services including Box, Dropbox and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Drive.

The app has a number of nifty features besides managing files across multiple services including the ability to save files from email, save photos from your camera roll, basic file management including copying, deleting and moving files, as well as sorting files by type, date and so forth. You can zip files, search files and mark files or folders for off-line viewing.

It also has some useful tools that allow you to view pdfs, preview Office documents, a text editor, photo and video viewer and even a music player.

While some of the functionality overlaps with what Box already does, clearly it's a comprehensive file management tool that will enhance the Box offering without having to build all of this functionality from scratch.

In a blog post announcing the purchase senior VP of engineering, Sam Shillace suggested that purchase was about keeping pace with the stunning level of innovation and change in the mobile industry. "We've developed a deep understanding of the industry's most interesting engineering and design challenges to stay ahead of that pace," he wrote. Perhaps it's easier to purchase that innovation sometimes than to put the resources into creating it yourself.

Shillace also said Box was enamored with the design of Folders and suggested that at least for the short term, this purchase is about improving their iOS app and not necessarily Android or other platforms Box supports. The chief designer of the app, Martin Destagnol, has already joined Box's development team and has been working for the last several weeks on incorporating his design into Box's.

It's not clear yet if Box will continue to work across services as the original Folders app has, and Schillace was coy when asked about this saying, "We'll have more to share about the app and potential features later in the year," he told me in an email.

The same goes for the cross-platform question. For now, it's just iOS, but Box is not showing its cards just yet when it comes to other operating environments. "For the time being, we're focused on integrating the technology into the next-generation of Box for iOS. That said, many of the design patterns and concepts are applicable to mobile experiences and use cases more generally. We have no specifics to share today, but it's reasonable to expect some continuity of the Box experience across mobile platforms, including Android and iOS," he told me.

It seems to me, from a content management standpoint, it would make sense and be consistent with Box's open philosophy to make the Box repository the center of every user's online cloud storage experience regardless of the service they were using. In that context, I can't see them dropping that ability when it's already been built, but we won't know exactly how Box will be using Folders until we see the iOS update later this year.

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