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Dropbox looking to work with telcos and ISPs to enter Indian market

dropboxCloud-based storage service Dropbox seems to be following the strategy followed by WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter in India and says it wants to engage with telcos and ISPs in India to target Indians, reports The Economic Times.

The company says that it has no plans to set up an office here and that it would rather partner with Indian mobile service providers and web companies. Sujay Jaswa, vice-president and business development head at Dropbox told the publication that Dropbox is in talks with “several Indian companies, including large corporations”, which could be potential customers.

This announcement comes at a time when Google dropped the fee for Google Drive threatening the business of Dropbox, Box and Microsoft’s OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive). That being the case, it is important for the company to get bigger corporations who will sign long-term deals rather than focus on individual customers who might be more interested in getting the cheapest available option. Box and OneDrive have been focusing on enterprise for a while and Google had also shifted its priority to enterprise ever since it rebranded Google Docs to Drive in 2012.

Till last year, storage service providers were tying up with phone manufacturers to get more people to use its services. Dropbox had a tie-up with Samsung and HTC, while its competitor Box was offering 50 GB of storage to people who bought certain models of LG and Sony devices. Microsoft’s OneDrive was offering 20GB storage space to those who bought Nokia devices, while was offering 20GB free space to those who bought Motorola’s latest devices such as Moto G and Moto X. It would interesting to see if Dropbox will tie-up with Indian handsets makers like Micromax or Karbonn to offer similar deals.

It is not clear if these online storage companies made any money from these tie-ups or were purely an awareness branding exercise. WhatsApp’s telco deals were more for awareness than for monetization. It is also not clear how many of these customers, became paying customers after a couple of years. It is possible that the percentage of people who became paying customers was not high enough, which might explain the company’s shift in strategy in a market like India.

It is worth noting that Dropbox is targeting smartphone users in India, which might explain why they are working with mobile phone operators for the same. However, it needs to be seen how telcos will offer a service like Dropbox to its customers. It could just be telco billing or may be even relaxed data caps while moving content to these storage services.

Remember that Idea had earlier launched a cloud storage service for its 3G dongle users in 2012, called Cloud Messenger+. The telco offered 2GB free storage on the cloud for an year as part of the deal. Similarly Telcos could start offering Dropbox’s service instead of their own to make its 3G service more attractive than that of the competition.

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