HTC’s future Android phones will be preloaded with the Dropbox cloud server app, a feature that may help the handset maker better compete with Apple’s iCloud and other similar storage services.
The Taiwanese handset maker is partnering with Dropbox to offer a total of five gigabytes of free storage to phones that use the Sense 3.5 interface, which appears on its new Rhyme and the Sensation XE models.
HTC previously said it would only have Dropbox with the Rhyme. The company revealed in a Facebook update, though, that all its future Android models would not only come preloaded with Dropbox and qualify for the free storage plan. However, it will not be available on its Windows phones.
The company has not said when the first phones with Dropbox will ship with the update, but the service is expected to come out soon.
Adding Dropbox to its Android phones may help HTC compete more fully with the iPhone 4S, which offers cloud storage through Apple’s iCloud system. However, the two cloud systems operate differently, so potential smartphone buyers will have choices to make when it comes to storage services.
Cloud users may appreciate Dropbox’s ability to directly sync documents, which the iCloud doesn’t allow. However, iCloud can back up phone settings so it can recover a crashed phone, unlike Dropbox, which could make a difference to security-minded buyers.
Dropbox users, though, won’t be able to retrieve lost music and videos. HTC plans to close its Listen music store, so Dropbox users can’t re-download music from the store. ICloud, however, allows users to download already-bought files again, with the iTunes Match program allowing them to remotely find any song they own.
Dropbox is not retroactive, meaning people using older HTC phones will not be able to use the service. However, iCloud is retroactive, working on devices as old as the iPhone 3GS.
HTC’s offer of Dropbox may appeal to some customers, but the free server storage is minimal when compared to what is being offered elsewhere, a problem that could hinder competition with other phones.
HP has partnered with third-party service Box.net to offer 50 gigabytes of free storage, and Microsoft offers Windows phone users cloud storage with SkyDrive, which gives users 25 gigabytes of free space.
HTC’s move to add cloud storage capabilities to its smartphones, though, appears to be part of a growing push to allow users to access a potentially infinite amount of music, videos and much more with their mobile devices, without having to use up the devices’ space to hold files they only use occasionally.