Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dropbox Music? New Carousel Photo App Hints at Plans

Paul Bonanos/Billboard

Cloud storage and file management system developer Dropbox showed off its newest application, photo-sharing app Carousel, in a presentation and blog postWednesday. The company says Carousel is part of a broad strategy to turn its utilitarian folders into a series of more specialized experiences -- a “home for life,” in company parlance. As Dropbox unveils more products in the coming months, is a music app in the offing?

The Carousel announcement comes sixteen months after Dropbox acquired Audiogalaxy, a company which most recently offered a personalized cloud-based music player. Audiogalaxy’s team had previously built a turn-of-the-millennium peer-to-peer service of the same name, as well as file-sharing app FolderShare, acquired by Microsoft in 2005. Dropbox hasn’t described its plans for Audiogalaxy’s team or technology yet.

Dropbox acquired both Audiogalaxy and photo-sharing app Snapjoy within a few days of each other in December 2012, and eventually shut down both services. The launch of Carousel, effectively from Snapjoy’s remains, suggests Dropbox may be planning a similar music product.

Carousel is designed to house all of a user’s photos in cloud-hosted folders, with access permitted on any connected device, including iOS and Android phones and tablets. A similar system for music would resemble Audiogalaxy’s past offerings, as well as Google’s music locker product, which allows users to upload their MP3s or other file types to the cloud, then stream them to other devices. Alternatively, Dropbox could develop a “scan-and-match” system similar to Apple’s iCloud, which streams an Apple-hosted file instead of the user’s own, provided the user can demonstrate ownership.

Founded in 2007, San Francisco-based Dropbox now counts 275 million users. The company offers basic free plans beginning at 2 gigabytes of storage per user. Those free users can add up to 16 gigabytes of storage space by referring others to the service, and can upgrade to more expensive plans, beginning at 100 gigabytes for $10 monthly. It also offers enterprise plans, beginning at $15 monthly per user.

Dropbox raised $350 million in early 2014, at a reported valuation of $10 billion. The company is rumored to be in the planning stages for an initial public offering, though it hasn’t revealed its ambitions for one yet. Another cloud storage company geared more toward enterprise customers, Box, filed for a $250 million IPO in March.

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