While most of these file sharing services are focusing on employee - employee - customer/partner collaboration and replacing the SharePoint UI with a simple folder UI, SkyDox just took a “Scribd” approach and built a public portal on top of SP with MS FAST search integrated.
So it certainly is feasible for the file sharing vendors to move beyond knowledge worker collaboration and move into content portals as well. Lowering price as an entry barrier to traditional content management systems has not spurred widespread adoption by knowledge workers. Like it or not, the content management metaphor does not resonate like the folder metaphor does with knowledge workers. Witness in any major firm how end users continue to nest folders in folders in folders in SharePoint document libraries instead of using metadata for filters, sorts and groups in custom views. But SharePoint still has a role, albeit one hidden further back in the stack, not directly exposed to the average end user.
But will Apple’s content storage metaphor of “it’s just there when you need it with every application” (iCoud) make entry roads into the enterprise as well? I doubt it, at least not while the current file-folder generations are still in the workplace. But maybe after today’s 20-somethings take over the workplace in 10-20 years?
Thanks to Kurt Marko for the article link. 5 will get you 20 that within one year of iCloud support in OS X apps, developers will release apps that link iCloud to a file sharing service of your choice (Box, Dropbox), perhaps a poor man’s API link like through IfThisThenThat. The file system metaphor, however flawed, resonates with end users and they’ve made it clear they prefer it to a content management system metaphor as well, like SharePoint. Users want iCloud to be like iDisks and they’ll find a way to use it that way.
Analysis: this really not new features. Application developers have always been able to write to Box’s API. While Box is ahead of Dropbox on enterprise support, both in IT admin features as well as integration with enterprise systems like, Salesforce.com and content management systems like SharePoint, Dropbox has been ahead in integration with productivity apps in the personal cloud, apps that are being used on the side by employees, especially on iOS devices. So this is really nothing more than a concerted effort by Box to formally build a partner ecosystem among personal cloud application developers, to try and cut into the lead that DropBox has there. A necessary and smart move, but not really about new features, except they have updated their tools for developers to write to their API. Also, while being described in the media as an iCloud for the enterprise, it really isn’t. iCloud completely shields the user from the file system. Your files are just there when use an iCloud-compatible application any supported device. Box, and Dropbox, maintain the metaphor of a file system, which is probably a better way to win over experienced enterprise knowledge workers, anyway, than Apple’s obfuscation of the file system.