Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Reinventing how Businesses Share with Cloud Content Management

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Imagine if the web worked like this: you want to watch a YouTube video, but you have to download the video in a separate window before watching. Then you decide to read the New York Times, but you have to open a PDF to read each article. Now you’re in the mood to browse photos on Flickr, which requires downloading each image before viewing.

Ridiculous? Totally. The web is designed for the seamless consumption of content, without forcing us to worry about content types. But the scenario described is analogous to what we deal with every day in the workplace. Want to view a proposal sent via email? Open Microsoft Word. A spreadsheet? Excel. A presentation? PowerPoint. Soon your desktop is cluttered with open software applications.

Business content is still rooted in the old desktop-centric paradigm, but the people who are using this content are more web-savvy than ever. We want to be able to share a presentation as easily as we would a YouTube video, and we want to be able to do this whether we’re working from the office or a cafe, regardless of what software we have. And we want to be able to share with a key business contact on another continent as easily as a neighboring coworker. If enterprise software makes it too hard to share, we’ll just find another channel.

The way we work is changing, and at Box.net we’re rethinking – and disrupting – traditional content management by freeing our users from the limitations of their desktop. We’re building a Cloud Content Management solution that reinvents how our users view and share all types of files by fully leveraging the way content is delivered and consumed on the web. And today we’re announcing two new features in line with this greater vision:

Integrated file view: You can now view files instantly, without ever leaving your browser. Box’s integrated file view feature lets you view the most popular file formats, including documents, spreadsheets, presentations, PDFs, images, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator files, audio and video. It lets you flow through all your content in one place, without downloading or worrying about whether you have the right application to view a file. To activate this feature, just go to Settings, Display, and set Content Preview to All Files.

File embedding: You’ll have the ability to embed instantly viewable content on the web, as a natural extension of the first feature. Users can share and embed all types of files so that people viewing that don’t need to download files and launch them in a desktop application. And again, there’s no need for anyone to worry about having the right desktop applications. This feature will be available in a few weeks, at which time we’ll share the simple steps to embed files.

With these new features, we’re making millions of files on Box instantly viewable to millions of people in a single click. That’s pretty powerful. Get a feel for the new content viewing experience by clicking on the file thumbnails below. To experience the full effect in your own Box account, open any file and then just click “Next File” to navigate through the folder, moving seamlessly from one file type to the next.

These two features are crucial steps towards reinventing the way we access, share and collaborate on content in the workplace, and are a result of our acquisition of Increo Solutions last Fall. With Cloud Content Management, we are working towards a larger vision where our users can view, share and eventually even edit content without concern for file type or desktop applications. And by integrating Box.net with other key cloud platforms like Salesforce.com and Google Apps, we’re ensuring that your content is available and viewable across the applications critical to your business.

Take the content viewer for a spin and let us know what you think. Comment here or on Twitter @boxdotnet or @levie.

Post by Aaron Levie, Co-founder and CEO