If you’re an IT administrator and you thought you could keep your workers off Dropbox – even after the news this week that Dropbox now has 100 million users – think again. Today Dropbox began offering a tool called Dropbox Chooser that will let developers build a way for any web app to access Dropbox files.
The move has the potential to draw even more business users to Dropbox, as finding it integrated into many other applications gives people that many more reasons to use the service.
The first example of an application to get the feature is a business app: Asana, the cloud-based project management application. (Dropbox was already letting people share files on Facebook. Today it simply opened that feature to third-party developers.)
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Starting today, Asana users will find the option to attach files from Dropbox to a task. Clicking on the attach option directs users into their library of Dropbox files, where they can choose the file they want to attach.
One Asana customer, a film production company called Variable, has been trying the Dropbox integration and said the combination of services lets it assign, comment on, and prioritize its thousands of production files.
Hellofax, a company that lets you send faxes from your computer, has also already integrated with Dropbox. Now people can choose files from Dropbox, as well as Google Drive or Box, to fax.
I can imagine many useful applications for combining Dropbox with other services. Simple possibilities include adding a button for easily attaching Dropbox files to IM conversations or email messages, or sharing Dropbox files during a WebEx meeting.
But those examples really just make it easier to attach a document. Even without the Dropbox Chooser link, people could simply download the file from Dropbox and attach it.
The more useful applications will be those that benefit from Dropbox serving as a repository for the most updated version of shared files for groups.
Some tools used for collaborating already include sharing and storage capabilities. For instance, does Evernote need a Dropbox button for sharing a file? Probably not. But if a group of people are already storing a large number of files on Dropbox and start using Evernote for its additional collaboration features, they might like to pull in Dropbox content easily.
It will be interesting to see if companies Evernote embrace Dropbox in the name of user convenience, or avoid it to try and keep users locked into their own services.
Regardless, as Dropbox starts extending itself into more applications, it could become even more indispensible -- and that means it'll be even harder to keep out of organizations who would prefer to use more secure file-sharing and storage services.