Dropbox Shuts Down E-Mail and Photo Apps as It Gets Back to Businesses

7 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Dropbox Is Killing Mailbox and Carousel.

The company will shut down its popular email app along with its its photo storage app Carousel, Dropbox announced Monday. In an effort to get its business back on track, Dropbox will be shuttering two promising, yet unfulfilled ventures beyond its core cloud-storage service.

SAN FRANCISCO — Facing growing competitive pressures, Dropbox has dumped two of its flagship products: email service Dropbox and photo-sharing service Carousel. “Building new products is about learning as much as it’s about making.Dropbox, the file hosting and cloud storage company with 400 million users, has been struggling to hold up its $10 billion valuation in the face of scrutiny from investors and observers, and now it looks like the other shoe is dropping as the company streamlines its business. It’s also about tough choices,” Dropbox founder Drew Houston said in a blog post. “Over the past few months, we’ve increased our team’s focus on collaboration and simplifying the way people work together.

In light of that, we’ve made the difficult decision to shut down Carousel and Mailbox.” At the time, Dropbox was looking to give people new reasons to use Dropbox as it faced rising competitive pressures from Google and Microsoft as well as rival Box. Sources tell us the plan will be to focus on its core product and developing other new productivity tools, such as its still-private collaboration app, Paper. Dropbox said Carousel and an expanded rollout of its Mailbox app were just the beginning of Dropbox launching a new wave of independent apps to help users save on time and frustration.

Dropbox says it’s giving Carousel extra time so that users can download their photos and move them elsewhere if they so choose. “If you have conversations or shared albums you want to save from Carousel, we’ll provide a simple export tool early next year,” the company notes. The reason for the month extension on Carousel is because a couple of features from it will be migrated to Dropbox itself: a disc space saving feature and shared albums. Other third-party email apps like Microsoft’s Outlook and Google Inbox have built upon the unique swipe and time management features that Mailbox introduced.

For Mailbox, there are guides and export tools for moving away from the email client. (See also the FAQ page, which suggests the iOS Mail app, Gmail, Inbox by Gmail, and Outlook as possible alternatives.) “[O]ver the past year and a half, we’ve learned the vast majority of our users prefer the convenience and simplicity of interacting with their photos directly inside of Dropbox,” the team wrote in the blog post about Carousel being closed down. The company acknowledges as much, saying “many of its innovations are now ubiquitous across the industry.” Similarly, Google Photos and Apple Photos have made Dropbox’s Carousel app somewhat useless by comparison. The app is often credited for introducing gesture-based controls to email, allowing you to organize messages by swiping right or left, a design that has been imitated by dozens of email apps since. Dropbox says it’ll bring some of Carousel’s better features to the main app “in the coming months.” So there’s the closure you might’ve been looking for; it just would’ve been nice to see this happen a few months sooner. I understand how frustrating it can be when you aren’t able to receive updates about a product that you feel passionate about using,” said a note sent this morning to a reader. “Mailbox hasn’t been abandoned.

Dropbox could have chosen to open-source the code behind the Mailbox and Carousel apps, as it did with Zulip, a group chat app it acquired last year, and Hackpad, a collaborative note-taking app. But that’s not what’s happening today. “We gave a lot of thought to open-sourcing the underlying system,” the Mailbox FAQ page says, “but this is ultimately not something we will support.” The nice gloss is that it appears Dropbox is redoubling its efforts on the central Dropbox experience, which to my eyes has been lacking in positive developments recently.

The best Carousel features will make it back to the core app, and the company says it will take what it’s learned from Mailbox to make communication features down the line. Surely some users will be sad to see these standalone tools go, but if it means a more buttoned up Dropbox in the future, then may ye go with god unfortunate apps.

Carousel actually had an update a bit more recently, in September, but essentially saw very little development soon after its initial release in 2014. Dropbox started life as a place to store and access files in the cloud, but for years now it has been looking for traction around other services to grow usage — and paying users — on its platform, whose business model is based on offering free storage tiers and upselling people to pay for more space.

Mailbox co-founder Gentry Underwood has already left Dropbox and Scott Cannon, the other co-founder, is staying on as an advisor for a short period of time.

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