Dropbox Shuttering Mailbox, Carousel Photo App

8 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Dropbox Dumps Mail and Photo Apps.

Cloud storage provider Dropbox is killing off two applications it introduced to much fanfare, including a photo-sharing app released last year. If you’ve been using Dropbox’s convenient and clean email app, Mailbox and Carousel, its Google Photos-like photo manager, there’s some bad news.

As it refocuses on business customers, Dropbox said today that it’s shutting down two of its once-marquee consumer-oriented apps: the photo gallery app Carousel and email client Mailbox. The San Francisco company has placed more focus recently on creating tools companies are willing to pay for, while these apps were designed with everyday consumers in mind. The move comes amid troubling news for Dropbox, which is struggling to justify its $10 billion evaluation amid mounting scrutiny from board members, reports TechCrunch.

Both products will be discontinued early next year. “Over the past few months, we’ve increased our team’s focus on collaboration and simplifying the way people work together,” the company said in a blog post. “In light of that, we’ve made the difficult decision to shut down Carousel and Mailbox.” Dropbox decided to kill the products amid pressure to justify a sky-high $10 billion valuation. The photo app, called Carousel, offered to automatically back up photo stored on a phone and displayed them alongside images already stored in a Dropbox account. Failing to find more users, Dropbox is expected to move its focus to productivity applications such as Paper, which lets users collaborate on documents in real-time. It’s been two years since Dropbox bought Mailbox, a powerful email organizer that let users defer messages in their in-boxes by scheduling them to disappear from view until a later time.

The Mailbox team alluded to this in its own announcement, saying that “we realized there’s only so much an email app can do to fundamentally fix email.” The team will now focus on streamlining “the workflows that generate so much email in the first place.” As for Carousel, the team’s goodbye letter hinted that the app just wasn’t very popular. “[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. After achieving a valuation of $10 billion in a financing round last year, Dropbox is under pressure to increase its revenue and eventually go public or sell. In other words, shuttering these apps fits into Dropbox’s new focus on corporate productivity software and services as opposed to consumer-oriented tech. Why this matters: Mailbox was once a shining example of what mobile email should be, with an interface focused on swiping, and helpful features like a snooze button for responding to important emails.

Dropbox has tried to straddle two missions in recent years: to build a product beloved by consumers and to create a service that satisfies businesses’ unique needs. Mailbox has since expanded to other platforms such as Android and Mac, but similar features have also come to other email clients, including CloudMagic, Google Inbox, and Microsoft Outlook.

The former strategy, which includes these apps, has fallen somewhat out of favor since the company brought in chief operating officer Dennis Woodside from Google last year. Carousel wasn’t quite as unique among photo apps, though alongside Mailbox it pushed the idea that killer apps could lead to greater use of paid cloud storage.

Box has been far more focused on enterprise collaboration over the years than Dropbox, so to convince investors that Dropbox is actually worth more than its more tersely named competitor, it’s going to have to leapfrog Box, not to mention Microsoft and Google, in technology and user experience. Again, it’s a strategy that larger rivals Google, Apple, and Microsoft have all espoused, with deep cloud storage hooks built into their respective products. Dropbox acquired Orchestra, the company behind Mailbox, for a reported $100 million in 2013, before the company had even fully released its flagship iPhone app to the public.

Orchestra was founded by Gentry Underwood, who previously worked at the design firm IDEO, well known for its work for Apple and other tech companies, and Scott Cannon, who had worked for Apple. Users won’t lose any actual emails—those are still stored with Gmail or iCloud—and all lists will remain as labels in Gmail or folders in iCloud under the [Mailbox] header. Dropbox will offer suggestions for how to export shared albums in early 2016, noting that content will “remain safe” whether or not someone chooses to migrate to another service.

This clever approach, along with plenty of marketing hype, to hundreds of thousands of people signing up for the waiting list for the beta version of the app. After joining Dropbox, Underwood became the company’s head of design and oversaw the design of Carousel, which launched with a lavish party in San Francisco last year. And today, Mailbox’s once fresh interface has become the standard approach for mobile email clients like Readdle’s Spark, Google’s Inbox to Microsoft’s revamped version of Outlook.

Dropbox has reportedly acquired companies such as Audiogalaxy and Readmill solely for their their employees rather than their products, a practice known as “acqui-hiring.” Although Dropbox open sourced the technology behind Hackpad and Zulip’s products this year, the company has decided against open sourcing Mailbox, according to the product’s frequently asked questions page. Dropbox did not immediately respond to a request for comment as to whether it will continue to devote resources to Hackpad and Zulip, or whether it will lay off any of the Mailbox or Carousel teams.

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