This morning ShareFile, a file sharing and collaboration company that I’ve covered before (and ranted about once), is today launching mobile applications for iOS and Android devices. The apps are live on the Android App Store right now and already sent for Apple’s inquisition approval process, so iPhone and iPad users should see that apps whenever the bully boys decide shortly.

Since I last wrote about ShareFile they’ve more squarely moved into the syncing space populated by services such as Dropbox, Syncplicity and other and have introduced synchronization services allowing either one or two way sync between devices. Today’s release see’s them move back to the sharing space a little with a mobile offering.

shf-android-folders

Essentially the applications include a cut down feature set from ShareFile’s web application. The use case here is to allow users to view and share file’s from a mobile device. The thinking being that mobile devices in general, and tablets in particular, will grow in use and importance over time.

Here’s where I got left feeling a little underwhelmed with what ShareFile is doing however – if the theory goes that people are working more and more on tablet devices, and using their desktops and laptops with decreasing frequency, then surely by extension an application that allows only viewing and sharing of files, and no editing, falls short of what the market really needs. To this criticism, Jesse Lipson, CEO of ShareFile told me that they see the market split into two distinct categories of vendor;

  • Visionaries who believe the world will move to the cloud fairly rapidly, and that traditional desktop tools will become more obsolete (box.net falls into this category)
  • Pragmatists who believe traditional tools (thinks MS Office and Outlook) will continue to be the default for organizations for the foreseeable future (ShareFile class themselves in here)

Unfortunately this is where I disagree with the thinking behind ShareFile’s strategy. I can accept that there are two distinct classes of people, those who are ties to traditional systems and don’t want to take advantage of this brave new mobile world, and those who want to progress and don’t want to be limited by their software as to what they can, and cannot, do. For this latter class of people – being able to view a file, but not edit it, on their tablet device, is a deal breaker.

I can accept that it need to be deeply rich editing – but a degree of mobile editing is a non-negotiable requirement for a tablet based file sharing app in my view, and in this respect ShareFile is making a mistake.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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