"When you think about a cloud and mobile world, you have to get much closer to the actual content creation."
That statement, by Box founder Aaron Levie, summarizes the company's strategy in the near future. The cloud storage service that we know and love has enlisted the help of ex-Microsoft Office overseer Steven Sinofsky and Writely (later Google Docs) creator Sam Schillace to become more than a file depot. It wants to be your creation and collaboration hub.
Wired reports that Box will soon release Box Notes, an online collaborative document editor. If that sounds like a direct competitor to Google Docs, you're not far off. It is collaborative document editing, like Google Docs, except it also has robust social annotation and task assignment features (featuring "note heads") that, at least in the pre-release videos, seem to put it a few steps ahead of Google's offering.
To us, it looks like a more collaborative, more social competitor to Evernote and OneNote. It's also interesting to note that Sinofsky and Schillace worked on competing products before joining Box.
Either way, this could be a great way to co-draft legal documents with fellow attorneys or to have a running case notes document for each file, with staff members annotating notes on the case, assigning tasks, etc. Think project management and note-taking.
We can't help but wonder how Box Notes fits in with Box's proprietary basic document editor, simply called Web Documents. With the basic online word processor being the least notable of Box.com's offerings, and a rudimentary platform compared to the upcoming Box Notes, does that mean it'll be discontinued?
If so, it really is no big loss, as the company's cloud storage drive also integrates with Google Docs and Microsoft Word (which begs the question -- why did we have the Web Documents editor at all?).
Google and Microsoft Integration
Box is launching a Google and Microsoft competitor. This has to make you wonder, will the robust third-party integration options continue to exist?
Right now, if you want to create a Google Doc, Spreadsheet, or Presentation through Box, you can. It creates a document using a Google account that you are logged into, allows you to edit, saves a copy on your Box drive, and then deletes it off your Google drive. In other words, the only difference between creating a document here, and creating one through Google Drive, is where the doc is stored.
If you want to create a Microsoft Office doc, you download a plug-in and it does the same thing (auto-storing your docs in the Box cloud).
It's seamless, but makes you wonder why anyone would go through the effort rather than just stick to Google Drive or SkyDrive.
The endgame for Box Notes has to either result in the end of integration with competing products, or Box Notes being such an amazing product that the masses flock from their existing platforms. The previews on Box's site look compelling, and once we get access to the beta, we'll report back.
- Massive Updates for Microsoft OneNote Across All Platforms (FindLaw's Technologist Blog)
- Microsoft Office for Android is Here (Kinda); SkyDrive Rebranding (FindLaw's Technologist Blog)
- Microsoft Close to Catching Up to Google With Skype+Outlook Marriage (FindLaw's Technologist Blog)