Dropbox Acquires CloudOn For Office 365 Collaborations

Dropbox acquired CloudOn, a developer of technology that allows users to edit documents including Office 365-based documents on mobile devices and store them in one of multiple file sync and share applications.

Dropbox plans to use CloudOn as a way to expand its collaboration technology, but the company does not seem to have specific plans to keep CloudOn's huge mobile customer base.

CloudOn, based in Herzliya, Israel, was founded in 2010, but as of last month had 9 million users who had edited nearly 92.4 million documents, according to information on the CloudOn website.

[Related: File Sync And Share: Channel In Demand To Help Business Users]

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Its technology allows the editing of documents, including documents created using Microsoft's Word and Excel, both online and offline. Some functionality of the Microsoft applications was lost in the CloudOn application, which was optimized for Apple iOS and Google Android mobile devices.

The CloudOn application currently supports Dropbox, Box, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive environments.

CloudOn, in announcing its acquisition by Dropbox, said in a statement that it will shut down the CloudOn service March 15 and will no longer be accepting new users. "We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you and we're here to help make this transition painless for you."

That transition includes telling users they will have to upload offline documents to one of the four cloud storage environments it supports before the service is ended. Documents currently stored in one of those services will still be available by logging on to that service, CloudOn said.

CloudOn users, however, will receive space on Dropbox's service for life, and will receive several free months of Dropbox Pro membership with the purchase of an annual Dropbox subscription, the company said.

Dropbox spokespeople were unavailable to talk to CRN about the CloudOn acquisition.

However, Dropbox, in an emailed statement sent to CRN, said that CloudOn brings it "incredible engineering talent and expertise in creating simple and beautiful ways for people to create and collaborate."

Dropbox in that statement also said it will continue CloudOn's mission and ensure that "making it easy to work on mobile aligns with Dropbox's goal of giving people the freedom to work the way they want, wherever they want."

There are still questions about the acquisition that need to be answered, said Rafi Kronzon, CEO of Cartwheel, a New York-based solution provider and channel partner of Dropbox and Microsoft.

NEXT: Questions Remain With Dropbox's Acquisition Of CloudOn

While CloudOn seems to be a document editor, Dropbox partner Microsoft with its Office 365 solution already has mobile applications, Cartwheel's Kronzon told CRN.

"Dropbox has been really getting tied closely to Microsoft," he said. "But I'm not sure what it would want to do with a Microsoft document editor."

Kronzon said Cartwhee; has clients who use both Dropbox and Office 365 who can use Office 365 to open documents directly in Dropbox. However, he is not aware of any clients who use CloudOn.

Kronzon also said it is fairly common in this market for a company to purchase another primarily for its technology and not its customer base. "Dropbox seems more interested in CloudOn's technology and developers," he said.

The Dropbox spokesperson told CRN via email that Dropbox will continue its relationship with Microsoft and Office 365 via project Harmony, which was launched in November as a way to allow collaboration between the two.

The spokesperson also said the acquisition will not compete with Office 365, but will instead make it easier for users to edit, share and access documents regardless of what applications they use.