Last week Dropbox announced Carousel, a new mobile app that lets Dropbox users scroll through a visual gallery of their photos. What hit my attention in the respective Wall Street Journal article the following paragraph:
Dropbox is a great place to store files, but it’s not a great place to view the photos and video you have there, said Gentry Underwood, a designer at Dropbox known for creating the Mailbox app that the company bought a little more than a year ago. “What people want in mobile is dedicated apps that do one thing and do them really, really well,” Underwood said. “Swiss army knives lose to specialized tools every time.”
Here at Open-Xchange, we have a strong belief that – for the majority of users to manage their daily tasks – the opposite is true. In the software industry we have seen many “specialized tools” growing to a state where some tools are bloated with features thus rendering them almost irrelevant. This archaic strategy of continuously adding feature after feature has been used for decades to sell software. Along these lines, Microsoft continues to add more and more functionality into Office – functionality that a small percentage of users benefit and fully utilize; even worse, it results in less end user productivity.
Equally, there are quite a few specialized tools that suffer from a lack of integration, which can make it a pain to do simple, daily tasks. For example: it takes you up to 20 steps to edit a document that has been sent as an attachment via email and send it back to them. Truly: productivity hell.
The Swiss Knife Principle – Less features and more integration
Our philosophy takes a different approach: we develop software with features that 90 percent of users need and use. Integrating Apps seamlessly that just work with each other creates the level on simplicity that users need in daily repetitive activities which we all do 100 times per day. Simply said: one integrated tool to manage all communication and files, simple to use and available on all devices: this is the idea behind OX App Suite.
By integrating office productivity with email and file management (chat and video telephony will follow with OX Messenger this summer) into a single user interface, we have reduced the number of steps to 7 (from the previous example above).
Our approach is not to fight the feature vs. feature armageddon. Our aim is to bring fun back into the digital lives of the 90 percent of the generalists out there, and thus by tearing down the walls between their various storage and data silos — including social networks – give them simplicity and choice to how they work and share.
Both, Swiss Army Knives and specialized tools make sense in general, to each their own role and purpose how they are used. Just remember: if you want to carve a huge turkey at Thanksgiving, it makes sense to use a carving knife for that special time of year. But for the various repetitive activities now necessary in our mobile, digital lives: a Swiss Army Knife in the pocket is the best way to get the real meat off the bone.
By the way: has anyone seen someone with a carving knife in the office lately?