The online storage wars opened another front on Thursday, when enterprise-focused Box announced a new program designed to acquire new users by paying app developers. Called Box $rev, the program offers a cut to developers who integrate with the Box platform.
The program initially launches with 10 developers, but is expected to soon expand to include any developer. Fees to developers will be based on how many Box customers use productivity apps the developer integrates with Box's OneCloud platform, which can include direct users of the app as well as other, non-Box users with whom files are shared. The initial 10 developers are CloudOn, Notability, Documents by Readdle, PDFExpert, iAnnotate, Genius Scan, CamScanner, Outline+, GoodNotes and SmartOffice.
The developer will receive up to 15 percent of a Box seat price for each Box Business or Box Enterprise user of that app. A Box seat starts at $15 per user monthly for 3 to 500 users. "It's an easy way to turn engagement into more money in your pocket," Box says on its Web site.
In March of last year, Box launched its One Cloud platform, an ecosystem for mobile apps that have been integrated with Box. The apps are integrated through APIs, and the company said it has issued over 25,000 API keys to developers. Box offers the ability, for instance, for a one-click feature that allows the storage service to serve as an app's default storage location.
The platform initially featured 30 apps, and now has more than 500. The idea is that app developers get access to the company's 15 million cloud storage users, and, by having more apps, Box attracts more users.
On its corporate blog, Box Vice President of Platform Chris Yeh notes that consumer mobile apps generally make money through an app store purchase, ads or in-app upgrades. But the same model doesn't work well in the enterprise for small app developers, because the stream of ongoing subscription or maintenance revenue -- a mainstay of some of the more popular business apps -- is not often available to them.
'Rewriting the Rules'
Yeh says the reason is that "most enterprises still buy en masse through an IT/procurement process that requires a dedicated sales force on the other end," which, he added, is "a non-starter for most small app companies." The sales force closes deals and gets contracts signed.
Box seeks to serve, to some extent, in that role. Yeh said Box's sales team has access to more than 150,000 businesses. The fee to developers, he said, is for creating "engagement on Box."
Box CEO and co-founder Aaron Levie told news media that his company is "rewriting the rules when it comes to supporting the next generation of enterprise app developers."
In addition to the new program, Box is launching new iOS and Android software development kits. The SDKs are the first built by Box, and, among other features, are intended to provide developers with the ability to quickly integrate their apps into Box.