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Today in Tech: Dropbox buys Mailbox; Dark Side of Openness & More

NS Ramnath
Published: 18, Mar 2013

I have been with Forbes India since August 2008. I like writing about ideas, events and people at the intersection of business, society and technology. Prior, I was with Economic Times. I am based in Bangalore. Email:

Dropbox buys Mailbox

Dropbox said it's buying the much talked about email management start-up Mailbox. I loved this sentence from the announcement:

Dropbox doesn’t replace your folders or your hard drive: it makes them better. The same is true with Mailbox. It doesn’t replace your email: it makes it better. Whether it’s your Dropbox or your Mailbox, we want to find ways to simplify your life.

(According to TechCrunch  and GigaOm, Dropbox paid anywhere between $ 50 million to $100 million in cash and stock. Yahoo and Facebook were also in the race.)

I have been using Dropbox since 2008, and I can definitely say it simplifies a lot of things we do. (If you aren't using it yet, you must give it a try.) MailBox is a more recent phenomenon. It was launched in mid-February and instantly got wide attention. When I registered for the app, there were 6.7 lakh people ahead of me. After a month long wait, I finally got to use it over the weekend. Here are a few quick thoughts.

  • The app is a huge improvement in how you access and manage your mail. You can read one, and take action straightaway; or you can move it to a folder for later use, depending on what you want to do and when. Your inbox is clean. The app promptly moves the mail back to inbox at the time specified by you for action. It might sound a little complicated, but it's very simple when you start using it.
  • The user interface is simple. You can do all the tasks with a few swipes.
  • It can potentially change the way you work. It's based on productivity tips popularized by David Allen in Getting Things Done. I spent a good part of a Saturday moving from a) ~ 9000 unread mails in my inbox to b) Zero mails in my inbox. The app nudges you to work more efficiently.
  • The downside: it works only with Gmail.
  • The start-up behind MailBox also has a Things To do app. Check it out.


The dark side of openness
Here's an ad that introduces a new search engine for 3D printing. If you have followed the school shootings in the US, and have wondered why that country doesn't have a strict gun control in place, you will find the ad a bit frightening. The most interesting term in the video: Openness

Evgeny Morozov, author of To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism  tells us why openness is a much abused term these days.

One doesn’t need to look at projects like Defcad to see that “openness” has become a dangerously vague term, with lots of sex appeal but barely any analytical content. Certified as “open,” the most heinous and suspicious ideas suddenly become acceptable. Even the Church of Scientology boasts of its “commitment to open communication.”


Loren Brichter

WSJ writes

Loren Brichter isn't a household name. Nor are the mobile apps he has built, which include a Twitter client called Tweetie and a Boggle-like word game called Letterpress. But to developers, the 28-year-old is a high priest of app design and an increasingly influential tastemaker.


Also of interest
Close to tipping point?: Google, Microsoft to help nurture Indian start-ups | Mint
The Next Big Thing: Autodesk CEO Carl Bass On The Future Of 3-D Printing At Home | Popular Science
Crowdfunding: How I Saved Veronica Mars And Destroyed The Movie Industry | ReadWrite
Counter point: Earth Hour Is a Colossal Waste of Time—And Energy | Slate

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