Pixorial leads with Google Drive: Will developers follow?

When Pixorial updated its video-sharing iOS app last month, the company added a feature its competitors couldn’t yet match: Integration with the new Google Drive cloud storage service.

“One of our main goals is to eventually allow people to have their videos anywhere, anytime, on any device,” said John Martyniak, Pixorial’s senior vice president of products and services, later adding: “A lot of people use Dropbox, or they’re starting to use Google Drive. For us to be able to add our service to that, it’s a no-brainer.”

Pixorial was first out of the gate because Google designated it a “launch partner” for the service. But will other iOS app developers follow? And with cloud-based storage services proliferating—Google Drive is joined by Apple’s iCloud and Microsoft’s SkyDrive in chasing a market that has been dominated until now by services like Dropbox and Box—how will developers choose?

Among app developers surveyed by Macworld in recent days, there is wariness.

“I don’t think I will be adding any additional cloud services to the app just yet,” said Samer Abousalbi, co-founder of Capparsa, developer of the Dropbox-integrated Compositions writing app. “I mostly don’t want to chase new drive services every time they come out, because it complicates supporting the app.”

Chad Sellers of Useful Fruit Software, which makes the Dropbox-integrated Pear Note note-taking app, agreed: “As a small dev shop, I don’t have the time to support lots of services. I understand the excitement around other services, but I can’t justify the time it takes to support them at this time.”

But Justin Brock, a marketer for Notability app developer Ginger Labs, said his company is considering adding Google Drive integration. Convenience must be weighed against clutter, he said.

“On one hand, users often want more choices; each person has his or her preferred service and want to provide for that user,” Brock said. “But, on the other hand, all users want a clear interface without choices cluttering the screen or interfering with functionality. So, we work to balance these forces when we select what features and services to add.”

Other developers said that two things must happen for Google Drive to earn their support: Grow an audience and show commitment. App creators remember all too well failed services like Google Wave and Google Buzz.

“We’d love to know how many people are actively using Google Drive a few months after launch,” said Zulfiqar Shah of Zaal, the developer behind the Contacts Journal application. “If it eclipses Dropbox as the premier choice for file storage for many people, then it would be interesting to look at as a way of reaching out to new users.

“If it’s going to be another Google Buzz,” she added, “then we’ll pass.”

Abousalbi agreed. “When it comes to Google products, I can’t help but worry that they will pull the plug on it at any time like other services,” he said. “Dropbox is much more focused—they only do storage and they do it real well.

Other developers don’t see the big deal, however. Readdle already includes Google Docs integration in its ReaddleDocs and PDF Expert apps, company spokeswoman Irene Chernyavska pointed out. That service can sync with Google Drive for customers who want to use it.

And, she added, it is app customers who will determine whether developers ultimately flock to Google Drive. “We measure the market, we try to understand and analyze what people use,” Chernyavska said. “We add (services), according to the requests from our users.”

Back at Pixorial, Martyniak says he expects his company’s app to eventually add integration with other cloud-based services. But he’s happy with Google Drive, saying it offers “pretty solid” integration with Pixorial.

“We want the connection to be a seamless as possible,” he said. Google Drive, he said, “is a very straightforward and simple way to do that.”

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