The acquisition of Mailbox by Dropbox is very interesting. I don’t think anyone saw this coming as an email client wasn’t exactly anyone’s first choice of a potential acquisition of Dropbox.
Dropbox are one of the masters of file syncing that just works™ and apart from some initial downtime and privacy concerns, Mailbox has been highly praised.
Dropbox have been making a big push into the business area by offering Dropbox for Teams, a competitor to the file server for many businesses where teams of workers can have a managed Dropbox account with customised storage and sharing options.
Now that they’ve acquired Mailbox it seems like they’re going after services such as Google Apps but instead of competing against online apps like Microsoft has with Office 365, Dropbox would let you use whatever native app you want and just provide the syncing in the background. They released a new Sync API recently that would allow developers to bake in Dropbox support that is transparent to the user. This means you can use Microsoft Office or iWork on your PC or Mac but the file can then be edited on any Dropbox supported app on iOS or Android.
So where does Mailbox fit into it? Most email service providers limit attachments to around 25Mb. This means 25Mb is going out, slowly, then downloaded to the recipient. There’s nothing worse than having a huge attachment filling up your inbox. If Dropbox expanded Mailbox’s functionality to work with any IMAP account then this could be improved upon dramatically1.
Imagine if Mailbox were to have direct access to your Dropbox files which you could attach, but instead of attaching the file directly it includes a sharing link. Sparrow for Mac does this with either Dropbox or CloudApp but it requires the attachment being uploaded first. Mailbox could handle this directly.
In addition, if Mailbox were to receive an email that had a Dropbox attachment it could then automatically grab the link and copy the file to your Dropbox folder. It could even do it server side so before you even read the email then the attachment, no matter what size, is already synced.
I am a big fan of Dropbox and am genuinely excited to see how Mailbox progresses now they’ve been acquired.
If Dropbox were to offer their own mail service then they have the potential to revamp email, something that hasn’t happened since the advent of Gmail. ↩