Dropbox on Tuesday unveiled a new version of its popular cloud storage and file sharing service that specifically freelancers and contractors of the gig economy. This is a growing demographic where small businesses and even even Fortune 500 companies are turning more more to independent workers.
An increasing number of writers, editors, and creative professionals these days are not affiliated with a given company, but still need to share their work with different employers in an attractive—and trackable—manner. This is something with which Dropbox Professional will facilitate, according to Vinod Valloppillil, a group product manager at Dropbox. Freelance artists, for example, can insert drawings, photographs, and text into an attractive “showcase” of their work and then track whether recipients open it and view all or just parts of it—or relegate it to the trash bin.
“Unlike email attachments, you’ll get real-time information about whether they actually opened and read the proposal,” Valloppillil says. “You could always share files in Dropbox, but now you can share them on a branded page with nice layouts and captioning,”
The showcases will be automatically updated for all recipients. Professional also supports the Dropbox Smart Sync feature, which lets users view all shared folders and files from any device without clogging that device’s hard drive.
Dropbox, which has claimed 500,000 users worldwide since the middle of 2016, gained traction among consumers who latched onto its free offering but also offers a couple paid versions. Dropbox Professional now one of these options. It costs $199 per year per person for 1TB of storage.
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As freelancers typically don’t have their own tech support team, Dropbox Professional also comes with priority chat support to guide them through any rough patches.
The company is onto a potentially big opportunity here. An MBO Partners study in June estimated that the number of independent workers in the U.S. will hit 47.6 million by 2022, up 3.1% from 40.9 million such workers now.
Dropbox has grown in popularity because it is touted for providing techies and luddites with an easy way share documents and other content created with any software application. But the San Francisco-based company faces a full array of competitors from Box (BOX) to Google (GOOG) to Microsoft (MSFT), all of which offer cloud storage and file sharing services.
It is also unclear how many of its claimed half a billion users pay for the service. Earlier this year, the company, which is hoping to go public, said it was on track to hit $1 billion in revenue for 2017.