Cotap: Cloud storage is the glue that holds messaging together

glue
Credit: sam_catch via Flickr

File sharing as collaborative glue.

Cotap, the mobile messaging startup that's trying to provide an enterprise-grade alternative to plain old text messaging, is hitting the 2.0 milestone today a total redesign and a native desktop app.

But the most interesting aspect is a partnership with Box -- slated to be spotlighted at the upcoming BoxWorks conference -- to build on its new-ish Box View API. This will let Cotap offer integration not only with the Box cloud storage platform itself, but also Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, and Google Drive. This may not seem like a huge deal, but it's a sign of things to come as workers expect to be able to collaborate on and edit documents anywhere. 

"It's all about that moment of inspiration, which happens a lot when you're not sitting at a desk," says Cotap CEO and Founder Jim Patterson. 

The way it works is pretty simple: Open a tab from the app on the phone or (now) the desktop and click into your cloud storage provider, provided you've set up your account. Choose a document (recently modified on top), and the Box View API handles previewing, so you can see what's in the file without having to get a computer out.

Easy peasy, Patterson says, and it means you can do more on your phone without having to pull out a computer. Because it's all sycned from a cloud storage provider you're already using, your files are just following you around. It's thoughtless, in so far as you don't have to think about it. Just add a document the same way you add a photo to the usual text message, and you're done. 

As for the new, native desktop app -- well, it's kind of a turnaround from Cotap's mobile-first strategy that's taken it this far. 

"But mobile-first doesn't mean mobile-only," Patterson says. 

It largely came about for matters of practicality: If you're going to try to kill the text message in the enterprise, that means you also have to compete with the likes of Apple's very popular iMessage, which syncs messages between mobile device and desktop. I know that I've used iMessage to text when I'm in a meeting or otherwise unavailable to look at my phone, and Cotap sees it as scratching the same itch and connecting more users. 

Slack, the Silicon Valley darling of the collaboration scene, did come up in conversation. There's definitely some overlap in the value proposition of the two apps, which place filesharing and slick, easy communication at the core of the experience. But Patterson says that there's plenty of room for the two to coexist. Where Slack is mainly designed for knowledge workers to keep in touch with each other all day (In fact, Cotap's own developers use it for just this, Patterson says), Cotap is more for the kind of person who relies on their phone as their electronic lifeline to the business, like service or field sales. 

But overall, Patterson says, Cotap is made to meet the needs of a workforce that wants to use the same tools at home as they do at the office. 

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