Dropbox update could be bad news for Scanbot, Scanner Pro and other apps

The company's new focus on productivity in addition to storage could be bad news for some app makers

Dropbox is moving further from its roots in online file storage and that could spell bad news for some other apps. The company announced a flood of new features in an update to its iOS app Wednesday, including the ability to scan physical documents into its service.

Todd Jackson, vice president of product and design, said Dropbox is moving away from simply keeping files in sync, and towards keeping whole teams in sync with more productivity and sharing tools. That means it will compete with more developers of other apps.

Scanbot, PDFPen Scan+ and Scanner Pro are a few of the apps likely to be affected by the latest update. Their apps all connect to Dropbox to save the files users scan. So, people who are using those apps to save physical documents to Dropbox ... don't necessarily need them anymore. The developers of those apps didn't reply to a request for comment on Wednesday.

That's not to say building a mobile scanner app is hopeless -- Dropbox's scanning functionality doesn't support sharing outside of Dropbox (good luck saving your scans to OneDrive, Google Drive or the like), and the company has left room for developers to release scanning applications for specialized purposes. 

Wednesday's update also brings some bad news for makers of apps that duplicate core features of Microsoft Office and store files in Dropbox. The file service has been integrated more tightly with Office, so its now easier from within Dropbox to create and save PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets and Word documents.

That's tough news for any third party apps with similar features that would benefit from the same promotion. On top of all that, Dropbox is building its own collaborative document editor in Paper -- something that the company released in private beta last year and has been quietly updating since then. 

It's starting to look a lot like the company is going after many of the features that draw people to Evernote, a note taking app with a cloud backend that its users often rely on as a bucket to store scanned images, documents, the contents of web pages and more. 

Dropbox is still actively courting partners to extend its capabilities as a service, especially in areas that the company isn't focused on, like providing enterprises with analytics and content protection services. But it's clearly looking to compete more concretely in the productivity space, which means other developers should be looking over their shoulders to see if Dropbox is closing in. 

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Blair Hanley Frank

IDG News Service
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