Following in the footsteps of Dropbox, which is treating buyers of HTC’s high-end smartphones to five additional gigabytes of online storage, cloud storage provider Box.net announced today an offering Apple fans will find hard to resist. Think 50 gigabytes of free online storage for anyone with a free Box Personal account on an iOS device, ten times the amount you get with iCloud, at no cost. This cloud storage space will be yours forever and always completely free, no strings attached.

You can use your Box.net storage to keep your photos, documents, music, videos and other personal assets safe in the cloud, for easy access anywhere there’s network connection, saving local storage space on your device. The Box.net for iOS client can be downloaded for free here (iPad screenies below). To claim your free storage beginning tomorrow at noon, just use the client to log in to your account or register for a new one directly from the app. Don’t underestimate the power of marketing: Box.net did the same 50GB thing with Hewlett-Packard and folks were buying TouchPads to claim their free Box.net account – at least until HP shuttered webOS. More info below the fold.

The promotion starts at 12:01am PST on Friday and runs for only 50 days. What’s best, the 50GB free allotment is valid everywhere, not just on iOS devices. Box.net also updated its iOS client with new features, including AirPlay wireless streaming of photos, videos, presentations and other assets. Box.net recently announced integration with Google Docs. The company has emerged as a rival to Dropbox, which is renowned as the most popular cloud storage provider. Given that a 50GB Dropbox account costs ten bucks a month and a 50GB iCloud upgrade will set you back a hundred bucks a year, Box.net’s offering is a compelling offer, especially with the iOS 5 + iCloud combo mainstreaming free cloud storage for the millions of iOS users worldwide.

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