Cloud storage and file-sharing company Box today rolled out a new word processing feature called Box Notes. Designed for real-time work with others, Box Notes fattens the company's enterprise productivity toolset. Not only will Box users be more productive but the product debut makes competitive growth for the company more plausible, too.
Box Notes is not just a tool for creating words but for creating words that other team members can see and work on. The accent for Box Notes is on support for simultaneous work whether brainstorming at the outset or drawing up a final roadmap, allowing annotations among colleagues. Users jot down thoughts and ideas from within the Box framework.
Users can see who has access to the document at all times. An interesting feature is the way profile pictures, nicknamed "Note Heads" can pop up. "See who's collaborating on a Box Note in real-time with a user profile picture that follows your cursor in the left hand side of the screen, letting your colleagues easily see where you're working in the Box Note," according to Monday's launch announcement.
Jonathan Berger, Box Notes product manager, said, "When you're working on a note with multiple people, it's easy to see where everyone else is working. We've found that it facilitates activities like conference calls because you can say 'look here' rather than 'look at the third paragraph, line number four.'"
Limited Private Beta
As for security, Box Notes, built on Box, has data encryption, advanced account settings and global controls for managing access.
Today's launch, however, is limited. The launch is designed in private beta for a selected group of testers. Interested users are being asked to sign up at Box.com/notes. A wider release is planned for next year. A mobile version of Box Notes is in the wings for iOS and Android.
The company's strategy is to provide a richer collaboration platform for the enterprise. The company points out that as Box Notes is native to Box, users' business content and collaborators already exist, and so information sharing is "incredibly relevant."
As such, Box frees itself from a competitive arena of just offering file storage and syncing in the cloud into something more enterprise-rich. More features translate into more attractive reasons for potential paying members to climb on board.
Monday's launch of Box Notes is not only interesting in its signals as to company strategy but offers a view into how the new Box Notes may reflect a larger trend in the way business users create and edit documentation. The question is: Are we looking at a word processing future primarily governed by such entities as Google Drive, WordPress, Evernote and now Box Notes?
Content's New Dimension
Berger said, "Our belief is that existing word processors have overshot the market, building ever more complex features, many of them still related to printing documents."
At the opposite end of the spectrum, he said, social communication and messaging applications have enabled new forms of continuous productivity not previously seen in the workplace. "We believe innovation along the dimension of social collaboration is the future of content creation tools in the coming years."
Aaron Levie is co-founder and CEO of the company, which has a stated mission "to make sharing, accessing and managing content ridiculously easy." He created Box as a college project at the University of Southern California, and launched from his dorm room in 2005 with the help of Box CFO Dylan Smith.
According to company stats, over 20 million individuals and 180,000 businesses collaborate using Box today, including well-known corporations such as Procter & Gamble.