Posts tagged give

PayPal: Give Us Some Credit

Lend PayPal your ears: The eBay-owned payments company doesn’t want to just process your transactions. It wants to fund them, too.

The most visible move it’s making is changing the name of BillMeLater, a provider of consumer credit eBay bought in 2008 for a little under $1 billion, to PayPal Credit.

That minor branding fix is just the tip of a financial iceberg. PayPal is also rapidly expanding PayPal Working Capital, a financing program for small businesses. It is taking PayPal Credit international. And it plans to make PayPal Credit an option for the growing number of mobile-app transactions that its Braintree subsidiary processes.

Credit Matters

The interchange fees charged by banks for credit- and debit-card transactions have long been an annoyance for technolibertarians. (It’s not clear if their objections boil down to anything aside from a preference that they, not fusty banks, get to be the money-making middlemen in all transactions.)

That’s one of the attractions of Bitcoin. The launch of the digital currency-cum-transaction-engine promised a financial fantasy: instantaneous, irreversible digital transactions, bypassing banks and payment processors. 

What that ignores is that the current cumbersome credit-card system has persisted in large measure because it enables people to buy things they can’t pay for with the cash they have on hand. 

It helps to remember that drugstores and grocers used to employ clerks in back rooms to track customers’ accounts and dun them for payments. The few points of interchange credit cards charged seemed like a far better deal. Handling cash, too, has cost and risk, from embezzling employees to fake bills.

Dee Hock, the technological visionary behind Visa, didn’t like to emphasize the lending aspect of credit cards. He didn’t even like the term “credit card,” according to Joe Nocera’s A Piece of the Action. But a key part of why credit cards took off is that consumers could make a purchase now and pay for it up to 30 days later, interest-free; merchants, meanwhile, got paid far faster than they might if they were the ones collecting on the debt.

Yes, all of that sounds slow compared to Bitcoin. But Bitcoin’s digital-cash-upfront approach doesn’t help consumers juggling mortgage payments and waiting for paychecks. The fact is that well-developed credit markets are clearly linked to increased economic activity.

That macroeconomic theory seems to work on the micro scale, too. Steve Allocca, the vice president in charge of PayPal Credit and related products, says that consumers who use a PayPal credit product spend an average of 30 percent more than they would otherwise. 

Even Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious inventor of Bitcoin, acknowledged in his first paper describing the Bitcoin protocol that the present-day system “works well enough for most transactions.”

Cash isn’t king. Cash flow is. 

Both A Borrower And A Lender Be

If you look at PayPal’s competitors, the most interesting rivals aren’t the ones trying to duplicate PayPal’s card-processing business, like WePay, Square, and Stripe. 

They’re companies you may not have heard of. Like Klarna, a primarily European business that lets customers pay after receiving an invoice—as Swedish and German consumers prefer—or over time. Or the soon-to-launch Affirm, a company started by PayPal cofounder Max Levchin, which promises to let buyers split payments over time.

Besides the renamed BillMeLater, PayPal also offers options like Pay After Delivery, which allows buyers to schedule a payment for 14 days out. It doesn’t charge fees but it requires use of a linked bank account, which makes the transaction far more profitable for PayPal.

A couple of weeks ago, eBay announced that it will take over the cobranded credit-card line it issues with GE Capital—giving it one more way of extending credit to consumers.

In March, PayPal’s then-president, David Marcus, told me about a bridal shop to which PayPal was loaning money to buy more inventory. That shop then lets brides pay for their dresses over time with BillMeLater. Marcus may be gone, but that vision of lending money on both sides—greasing the rails of commerce with credit—remains and is animating PayPal’s latest moves.

PayPal Working Capital has lent $150 million to date, says Darrell Esch, the company’s executive in charge of small-business lending, and is making $1 million in loans a day. So far 20,000 PayPal merchants have taken loans—approximately 10 percent of those who have been offered them. (Square has a very similar program, Square Capital, which it offers to retail merchants who use its card-swiping app.)

PayPal’s Worst Enemy

PayPal has many risks here. The chief risk is risk itself—the possibility that it will lend out money and not get paid back, whether by consumers or small businesses. 

Against that risk, it is wielding a decade-plus of data on consumers’ purchases and merchants’ sales, which Allocca says will let it make faster and better credit decisions than it might using credit scores and other traditional sources of data used by banks.

The other risk is complexity, the cruft of dozens of product launches, brand extensions, and acquisitions. ReadWrite has long noted PayPal’s cultural problem with imperial overreach. It wants to be in every niche within the payments world, and it seems to want that more than having a straightforward mission executed with a simple set of tools.

Marcus, who left PayPal in June for Facebook, departed with an unfinished effort to cut back on the company’s sprawling product lines. It’s not clear who’s wielding that ax now, since PayPal has yet to replace him. (eBay CEO John Donahoe is running PayPal directly on an interim basis.)

Here, the move to rename BillMeLater takes on more than just symbolic importance. PayPal Credit makes sense as part of PayPal’s core product—a flexible credit line joined at the hip with PayPal’s stored-value account. If PayPal can roll all of its cobranded cards and financing offers into one coherent product, it stands a far better chance of fending off Klarna, Affirm, and its other eager competitors.

It also points to how PayPal might make money in a Bitcoin future. Bitcoin may well drive down transaction costs over time. But digital cash won’t answer consumers’ and businesses’ need to pay for some purchases over time. It may be that moving money from point A to point B may not be PayPal’s long-term destiny. Fronting the cash to make commerce happen may be.

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Google’s improved screening measures give rise to SEO-related complaints – Asahi Shimbun


MyHostNews.com (press release)
Google's improved screening measures give rise to SEO-related complaints
Asahi Shimbun
Search engine optimization (SEO) firms are the new must-have, promising to improve a company's website ranking, but many of their clientele are running afoul of Google Inc.'s rules on determining the popularity of search results. According to the
12 Free SEO Tools You Can't Afford Not To Be UsingBusiness 2 Community
3 Ways To Safely Diversify Your SEO StrategySearch Engine People (blog)
How Can You Support Your Brand With Your SEO Strategy?Promotion World (press release)
MyHostNews.com (press release) -JOSIC: News, Sports, Style, Culture & Technology
all 27 news articles »

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Hyungsik, Seo Kang Jun, and Nam Ji Hyun give each other eye contact in … – allkpop


allkpop
Hyungsik, Seo Kang Jun, and Nam Ji Hyun give each other eye contact in
allkpop
Hyungsik plays the role of troublemaker Cha Dal Bong, Nam Ji Hyun plays the role of honest and positive Kang Seo Wool, and Seo Kang Jun plays the role of well-mannered and handsome Yoon Eun Ho. The trio politely greeted each other and kicked off …

View full post on SEO – Google News

Give Your iPhone Camera DSLR-Like Superpowers

Guest author Chris McConnell is an opinionated, entrepreneurial-minded designer and writer who founded DailyTekk and Climbur.

I’ve got a problem. I love the camera on my iPhone. It’s become an appendage—like an arm, or hand. If it was amputated from my life I’d feel like I’d truly lost a part of me. I use it all the time. Maybe too much (no one wants to be that guy that gets a picture of the moment but misses the actual thing, but hey, I can’t help it and neither can you).

The thing is, I wish my iPhone’s camera could do more. It’s not a Apple vs Samsung vs Nokia type of thing. I’m talking about features that you don’t find on phones in general. DSLR-like features. I love the convenience of having a great camera in my pocket at all times, but it’s missing the power and the feel of a full-featured DSLR.

I found a few upgrades that can give an iPhone DSLR-like superpowers. Now plant the phrase, “Whoa, that exists?!” somewhere convenient in your brain, because you’re going to be accessing it a lot in the next few minutes.

Sony QX100 Smart Lens

Though it might look like a DSLR lens without a body, in reality the Sony QZ100 Smart Lens ($448) a full-fledged camera that uses your iPhone as a viewport. When combined with an iPhone via an included attachment, it’s possible to use in a traditional camera-like fashion: point and shoot.

But the real fun happens when the two items are detached. You can mount the solo Smart Lens on a tripod (perfect for lining up those professional selfies) or hold it in one hand with your iPhone in the other (perfect for hard-to-reach angles). The QX communicates with your phone via NFC or Wi-Fi (it actually creates its own hotspot).

Sony’s app will let you adjust white balance and exposure settings and control the zoom, among other things. While an iPhone 5S sports an 8 megapixel sensor, the QX packs a whopping 20 megapixels—more than double the iPhone’s out-of-box capabilities.

Olloclip Telephoto + Circular Polarizing Lens

I don’t know about you, but I’ve passed up many a cool subject because I knew my phone’s built-in zoom wasn’t up to the challenge. (That, or the photo would be so grainy I might as well take a picture of some sand.)

If you wanted to equip your iPhone with a more capable zoom without adding a ton of extra bulk, you’d look for something like the Olloclip Telephoto + Circular Polarizing Lens ($100). It may look small (and it is), but it will give you 2x optical magnification. Sure, it’s not something the paparazzi will use, but it might give you just the extra oomph you are looking for.

iPhone SLR Mount

You sometimes hear experts say that a camera is only as good as its lens. That’s why you can have an older camera body with a great lens on it and still take award-winning photos—and why a newbie with a brand new DSLR and stock lens might not have any good photos.

Going by this rule, the best way to upgrade your iPhone’s camera is to attach a huge beast of a lens—a full-fledged SLR. This is actually possible thanks to the iPhone SLR Mount ($175), which comes in both Canon and Nikon flavors.

ProCam App

Taking a break from the hardware front for a moment, let me tell you about ProCam (99 cents), an app that adds a familiar-looking DSLR-like interface to your iPhone screen when taking photos.

But the app is more than a looker—it actually lets you control things like focus and exposure, white balance, saturation and more. You can also control JPEG compression or opt for saving images in true lossless TIFF format. Another neat feature is the level mode which uses your phone’s gyroscope to auto-straighten the viewfinder in realtime.

iPhone Viewfinder

Those of you old enough to remember (and excluding all you pros)—have you ever found yourself missing the old viewfinder you used to use to line up shots? You know, the eyepiece you actually held up to your face to peer through? There was something professional about it. It made you concentrate.

Though you’ve probably never pictured it before, you actually can buy a physical viewfinder to stick on your iPhone. It’s simply called the iPhone Viewfinder ($30) and it uses a screw-on suction pad to vacuum onto your phone screen. Used in conjunction with the Daylight Viewfinder app, this is a great way to spice up your iPhotography experience.

Images courtesy of the manufacturers

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LinkedIn’s Latest Lawsuit Is A Great Reminder Of How We Give Up Our Own Privacy

On Friday, a judge ruled that LinkedIn must face a lawsuit brought by customers who claim LinkedIn accessed their external email accounts like Gmail and Yahoo in order to bombard their contacts with unwanted LinkedIn invites. 

You’d need to read LinkedIn’s terms of service closely to learn that when you give LinkedIn access to your email accounts, the company pulls data from your emails to recruit new members. And you’d have to read through a lot of verbiage to discover that LinkedIn warns you that it will send out invites that look like they’re from you. Nowhere does it explicitly warn you that LinkedIn will follow up with repeated invites, making you look like a needy friend.

(Oh, you didn’t even bother to read the terms of service? Well, then those spammy invites your friends received in their email are all on you.)

This is the crux of a lawsuit brought by a group of users that raises questions about how much data companies can collect, and what they do with that information. U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh said Friday in her ruling that LinkedIn members who sued the company can pursue damages, as they try to expand their case to include other users, Bloomberg reported

Koh rejected some wild conspiracy-theory claims LinkedIn members advanced that the company was somehow “hacking” into their email accounts, finding they’d consented to give it access.

“We will continue to contest the remaining claims, as we believe they have no merit,” a LinkedIn spokesperson told ReadWrite.

Giving Up Our Privacy, One Click At A Time

And yet there is merit to the idea that something is happening when we use online services like LinkedIn that puts our digital lives out of our control.

The suit hangs on the fact that LinkedIn users consent once to sending an email. The plaintiffs allege that LinkedIn then sends numerous follow-up invitations to people’s contacts, a practice Koh said in her ruling was grounds to move forward with the lawsuit.

Soon, a lawsuit like this one might be a dinosaur.

An increasing trend is for corporations to erode not just our privacy, but our right to protest these invasions, by taking advantage of terms of service—implied contracts with customers—to shield them from lawsuits like this.

Instead, they rewrite their terms to favor procedures like mandatory arbitration, a process which many legal advocates believe favor corporations. Dropbox made this change in February (though it allows users to opt out of the change).

Two Supreme Court decisions in 2011 and 2013 have made it possible for companies to quietly revise the terms of service users rarely read, in an effort to forestall any consequences for abusing user privacy, like those alleged in the LinkedIn suit.

As Lina Khan of the Washington Monthly notes

The decisions culminate a thirty-year trend during which the judiciary, including initially some prominent liberal jurists, has moved to eliminate courts as a means for ordinary Americans to uphold their rights against companies. The result is a world where corporations can evade accountability and effectively skirt swaths of law, pushing their growing power over their consumers and employees past a tipping point.

This could theoretically put us in a world where Facebook could quietly change its terms of service to make the private information of its more than one billion users public—and there’d be almost nothing you could do about it, save quit in a huff.

It’s easy to lecture people about how important it is read the fine print you’re consenting to before sharing your private data. But we have lives to live, work to do, and families to see—all higher priorities than wading through Internet legalese.

And it’s not like we have any choice about these terms if we want to use a popular website. There’s no negotiating terms—only abject surrender.

I know I’m guilty of agreeing to terms of an app or website that I haven’t fully read. 

But cases like LinkedIn’s contact-email lawsuit serve as a reminder for all: The scales are tipped against us when it comes to protecting our privacy. We constantly trade convenience for control over our own online lives. And soon, we may have no recourse.

Image by Isengardt 

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Facebook To Give Users More Control Over The Ads They See by @mattsouthern

In an announcement made today, Facebook is taking a cue from its users and taking two major steps to make ads better. In the first step, Facebook will be introducing interest-based advertising to users in the US: When we ask people about our ads, one of the top things they tell us is that they want to see ads that are more relevant to their interests. Today, we learn about your interests primarily from the things you do on Facebook, such as Pages you like. So, for example, if you’re in the market for a new TV and start shopping […]

The post Facebook To Give Users More Control Over The Ads They See by @mattsouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

View full post on Search Engine Journal

Sorry, Apple’s HealthKit Isn’t Going To Give You Six-Pack Abs

ReadWriteBody is an ongoing series where ReadWrite covers networked fitness and the quantified self.

There’s a lot of enthusiasm about Apple’s newly announced HealthKit software, especially from the makers of fitness apps and connected devices.

I hate to throw everyone into the locker room and turn the cold-water faucets on full blast, but someone’s got to do it.

Here’s an example of the hype that’s getting thrown around:

“HealthKit appears to be a great platform that Strava can use to serve our global community of athletes with more insight about their athletic performance.” —Strava strategy VP David Lorsh

Appearances aren’t everything. The bottom line is that HealthKit is largely geared around delivering very basic vital statistics to medical personnel, and its nutrition- and activity-tracking features are rudimentary at best.

That will limit the adoption of HealthKit to a fairly small set of users intensely interested in tracking vital signs. As Google and Microsoft have found through their past misadventures in online health, that market just isn’t very broad. It’s not clear to me why Apple thinks putting this data on your smartphone will change consumers’ minds.

Meanwhile, apps like MyFitnessPal, RunKeeper, and MapMyFitness will keep ingesting massive amounts of data from their tens of millions of users (who have both Android and iOS phones)—and sharing it broadly through their well-established application programming interfaces. The data they collect about calories in, calories out, and types of activity, may get fed into HealthKit. But because HealthKit’s data types are so limited at present, any useful analysis that helps guide people to better health decisions will have to happen outside of Apple’s health universe. 

Apple executive Craig Federighi shows off an app using Healthkit at the 2014 Worldwide Developers Conference.

Apple executive Craig Federighi shows off an app using Healthkit at the 2014 Worldwide Developers Conference.

Down In The Documentation

There’s no need to speculate about what HealthKit can or can’t do anymore. The details are all in the documents Apple has published, as well as a presentation Apple engineers delivered at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this week.

It’s clear that Apple had a hard decision to make on what data types to include. Should HealthKit support a wide variety of medical, health and fitness apps, and risk making choices that conflict with developers’ preferences or medical experts’ ideas of what data is most valuable? Or should it focus on a narrower set of uses, and risk disappointment when consumers realize it can’t store the information they’re most interested in?

The decisions Apple made, though, don’t really fall towards either extreme. In the end, they’re just confusing.

Apple, for example, supports a host of options for taking your temperature from your eardrum to your rectum:

HKBodyTemperatureSensorLocation
HKBodyTemperatureSensorLocationArmpit
HKBodyTemperatureSensorLocationBody
HKBodyTemperatureSensorLocationEar
HKBodyTemperatureSensorLocationEarDrum
HKBodyTemperatureSensorLocationFinger
HKBodyTemperatureSensorLocationForehead
HKBodyTemperatureSensorLocationGastroIntestinal
HKBodyTemperatureSensorLocationMouth
HKBodyTemperatureSensorLocationOther
HKBodyTemperatureSensorLocationRectum
HKBodyTemperatureSensorLocationTemporalArtery
HKBodyTemperatureSensorLocationToe

It’s also got a wide variety of nutrients available for recording. It tracks steps, flights of stairs climbed, and Nike’s proprietary NikeFuel measure for activity. It can track the number of times you’ve fallen and your inhaler usage.

Where Apple falls far short, at least in terms of the concepts built into HealthKit, are the useful details of what we eat and how we work out.

There are some basic features for food logging, but there doesn’t appear to be a concept of timing for food consumption, for example, or support for grouping food items into meals. It’s also not clear what kind of food database Apple might tap to match food items to standardized calorie and nutrition information. MyFitnessPal users accustomed to its very rich food-tracking capabilities will be sorely disappointed by anything built purely with HealthKit.

In exercise, HealthKit appears to count numbers of activities and the energy burned in performing them, but that’s it. You can’t even compare that to RunKeeper’s very well-developed Health Graph application programming interface, which has an extensive software vocabulary for cardio and strength training.

Our Prescription For HealthKit: An Intensive Training Program

I asked RunKeeper CEO Jason Jacobs for some perspective on what it takes to build a sophisticated interface for connecting health and fitness apps, since his company did exactly that back in 2011 with the introduction of the Health Graph.

Jacobs says RunKeeper realized that it was best off building apps for consumers, rather than trying to build what Jacobs calls “middleware” for other app developers. It recently introduced a new activity-coaching app called Breeze alongside its eponymous fitness-tracking app.

“It’s really hard, so I wish them luck!” Jacobs told me. “If [Apple’s] not successful, it doesn’t hurt us. If they are successful, it should help us.”

That’s broadly true, I believe, for most of the apps in the fitness category. HealthKit may help them simplify some aspects of data entry, but it’s far too underpowered and unsophisticated to do much on its own.

How Apple Can Slice Up Our Data

The one thing that’s intriguing about HealthKit is its ability to consolidate and reconcile overlapping data from multiple sources. In a WWDC presentation, Apple software engineer Justin Rushing showed how HealthKit could take step data from two different apps, sort it by time periods, and based on the preferences of the user, eliminate redundant data.

That would be great for someone like me, who’s constantly trying new apps and devices which often track the same kinds of statistics, like hours of sleep, steps walked, and even heart rate during a workout. I use MyFitnessPal and connect it with apps like RunKeeper, Pear Sports, and Jawbone Up.

Here’s an example of how Apple’s HealthKit sorts out conflicts in fitness data.

Here’s an example of how Apple’s HealthKit sorts out conflicts in fitness data.

That’s valuable to me because I now rarely have to log a workout in one app and then record it again in another app. The challenge comes when the Up counts the number of steps I take during a run while RunKeeper logs the same activity and estimates calories based on mileage and speed—and they both feed MyFitnessPal data that not only overlaps but often disagrees.

As we add sensors and apps that can passively track our activity, the problem of data overlap will only grow. HealthKit will have to rapidly add more data types and get better at understanding the relationship between steps, calories, and activity, though—otherwise its abilities to reconcile data won’t keep up with the demands of consumers or developers.

It’s important to recognize HealthKit as it exists today as a beginning, not an end, to Apple’s presence in the health and fitness world. There are some valuable things it can bring—things as simple as letting users update their weight once and have that information flow to all available apps. I typically have to enter my height, weight, sex, and age every time I sign up for a new app. A central storehouse for that information just makes sense.

I’d be happier, though, if that storehouse weren’t so tightly tied to a particular device. As we enter a world of wearables, our devices will increasingly talk directly to servers over the Internet—the cloud, in other words—without the mediation of a smartphone. Smartphones and tablets will be access devices where we can review and analyze this data, but they don’t need to be the central hub.

I can understand why Apple, which makes its money selling mobile devices, would favor a device-centric approach. I’m just worried that it won’t give HealthKit a very long lifespan.

Photo by Shutterstock; screenshot via Apple

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Box Challenges Microsoft: Give Us Your Office Docs

In an apparent effort to win over more users for its online-storage service, Microsoft said that OneDrive for Business customers would now get a full terabyte of storage for their documents, up from 25 gigabytes. 

But it’s the way Microsoft announced the news that is turning into the real story. John Case, the Microsoft executive whose byline is on the post, used the headline “Thinking outside the box.”

Subtle, Microsoft. Real subtle. The point wasn’t lost on Box CEO Aaron Levie, who responded in kind, calling on Microsoft to open up Office to other online-storage options besides OneDrive.

Boxing Office Users In

Case alluded to both Box and Dropbox in the blog post. He described Box as a “point solution”—a typical dig in the old enterprise-software world, but one that ignores the ease of integration now possible through application programming interfaces. The reality is that Microsoft has always been protective of its lucrative Windows and Office products, and its recent moves back this up. It launched Office for the iPad without the ability to use documents from any other cloud service besides OneDrive.

Box’s Levie wrote that he looked forward to working with Microsoft in the cloud, and called on Microsoft to allow online Office users to store documents in other services, including Box. (Users of the desktop version of Office can store documents anywhere, including Box and Dropbox.)

The odd background to this very public tiff is that Microsoft and Box have collaborated in other areas. Levie appeared last year on stage at Microsoft’s Build developer conference, which highlighted the software giant’s collaboration with smaller companies.

Old Microsoft, New Microsoft

The strategy of OneDrive lock-in feels like classic Microsoft—but not like the open, partner-embracing company that new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is trying to build.

Case ended his post by mentioning how the cloud is about lowering barriers between people and information, and not creating islands. As Levie pointed out, the lack of other cloud services included in Office for the iPad is exactly the kind of barrier Microsoft is sort of claiming it would like to see less of.

Furthermore, the kind of island Case describes is also evident in OneDrive. As with Office for the iPad, OneDrive users are locked into Microsoft’s cloud, and aren’t able to import documents from other cloud systems directly on mobile devices.

That’s the tension in today’s Microsoft. On the one hand, it wants to cater to all the tools and services developers prefer, and it’s made a big effort to communicate its support for non-Microsoft services and platforms. But it also wants to build a big, successful cloud-software business, which means signing up businesses and consumers as subscribers to Office and OneDrive. 

We asked Microsoft for comment on whether it planned to 

Feature Attraction

Levie has a point. The loser here seems to be Office users, who have to download documents from OneDrive and share them by email to work around MIcrosoft’s limitations. That’s not the kind of workflow that makes things easier for customers, Levie pointed out in his post.

For example, Microsoft took a month to add a feature that let users print Office 365 documents from its iPad app.  Google has had cloud printing for a while, and Box has a couple of apps that allow printing of documents from the cloud.

Printing is just one example of a missing feature. In a cloud-first, mobile-first world—the world Microsoft’s Nadella says the company now lives in—the days when software companies had to build all their features themselves are long gone. If Microsoft had launched Office for iPad with Box integration, it could have offered customers a convenient option while it worked on its own native printing feature. Until it sheds old, bad habits, Microsoft is going to remain stuck on its own software island.

Photo of Satya Nadella by Owen Thomas for ReadWrite

View full post on ReadWrite

Box Makes Challenge to Microsoft: Give Us Your Office Docs

In an apparent effort to win over more users for its online-storage service, Microsoft said that OneDrive for Business customers would now get a full terabyte of storage for their documents, up from 25 gigabytes. 

But it’s the way Microsoft announced the news that is turning into the real story. John Case, the Microsoft executive whose byline is on the post, used the headline “Thinking outside the box.”

Subtle, Microsoft. Real subtle. The point wasn’t lost on Box CEO Aaron Levie, who responded in kind, calling on Microsoft to open up Office to other online-storage options besides OneDrive.

Boxing Office Users In

Case alluded to both Box and Dropbox in the blog post. He described Box as a “point solution”—a typical dig in the old enterprise-software world, but one that ignores the ease of integration now possible through application programming interfaces. The reality is that Microsoft has always been protective of its lucrative Windows and Office products, and its recent moves back this up. It launched Office for the iPad without the ability to use documents from any other cloud service besides OneDrive.

Box’s Levie wrote that he looked forward to working with Microsoft in the cloud, and called on Microsoft to allow online Office users to store documents in other services, including Box. (Users of the desktop version of Office can store documents anywhere, including Box and Dropbox.)

The odd background to this very public tiff is that Microsoft and Box have collaborated in other areas. Levie appeared last year on stage at Microsoft’s Build developer conference, which highlighted the software giant’s collaboration with smaller companies.

Old Microsoft, New Microsoft

The strategy of OneDrive lock-in feels like classic Microsoft—but not like the open, partner-embracing company that new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is trying to build.

Case ended his post by mentioning how the cloud is about lowering barriers between people and information, and not creating islands. As Levie pointed out, the lack of other cloud services included in Office for the iPad is exactly the kind of barrier Microsoft is sort of claiming it would like to see less of.

Furthermore, the kind of island Case describes is also evident in OneDrive. As with Office for the iPad, OneDrive users are locked into Microsoft’s cloud, and aren’t able to import documents from other cloud systems directly on mobile devices.

That’s the tension in today’s Microsoft. On the one hand, it wants to cater to all the tools and services developers prefer, and it’s made a big effort to communicate its support for non-Microsoft services and platforms. But it also wants to build a big, successful cloud-software business, which means signing up businesses and consumers as subscribers to Office and OneDrive. 

We asked Microsoft for comment on whether it planned to 

Feature Attraction

Levie has a point. The loser here seems to be Office users, who have to download documents from OneDrive and share them by email to work around MIcrosoft’s limitations. That’s not the kind of workflow that makes things easier for customers, Levie pointed out in his post.

For example, Microsoft took a month to add a feature that let users print Office 365 documents from its iPad app.  Google has had cloud printing for a while, and Box has a couple of apps that allow printing of documents from the cloud.

Printing is just one example of a missing feature. In a cloud-first, mobile-first world—the world Microsoft’s Nadella says the company now lives in—the days when software companies had to build all their features themselves are long gone. If Microsoft had launched Office for iPad with Box integration, it could have offered customers a convenient option while it worked on its own native printing feature. Until it sheds old, bad habits, Microsoft is going to remain stuck on its own software island.

Photo of Satya Nadella by Owen Thomas for ReadWrite

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