Largely thanks to Steve Jobs, cloud storage is suddenly hip. Having been in this industry for six or so years, it’s fascinating to watch the meteoric rise of this category in public awareness. But this is no fluke: there is massive, unprecedented demand for anytime, anywhere access to information across our many devices. Apple intends to solve this problem for the individual consumer with iCloud; at Box, we’re laser-focused on addressing the enterprise information challenge, where it’s not just about accessing content across devices, but also extending it to other people and applications.
But even as enterprises embrace content sharing and collaboration in the cloud, we’re still very much anchored to our desktops. We’re tethered to applications that let us work on documents, model financial statements, and create presentations. At Box, we’re working hard to make maneuvering between the desktop and the cloud as smooth as possible with tools like Box Sync. But what if the entire process - from content creation and editing to sharing and collaboration - took place online, without ever involving your desktop? Or, what if you could take the content you’ve created in desktop applications and enable real-time collaboration and editing on them? Word and Excel aren’t going away in the near-future, but we can (and should) accelerate that transition to cloud documents.
The Cloud Workforce
To this end, we’re very excited to announce a major integration with Google Docs, Google’s leading web productivity suite. Beginning today, Box’s 6 million users can easily create and collaborate on Google Docs and Spreadsheets from within Box, as well as edit the existing 50M+ Word and Excel files already stored on our platform. Google Docs enable entirely new forms of collaboration - like concurrent editing - that are impossible within desktop applications, and now these capabilities are easily available to Box users. We believe that the combination of Google Docs’ collaborative editing and Box’s content management will transform the way people work, and we look forward to hearing if you agree.
What About Microsoft?
Well, I’m glad you asked. After much fanfare, Microsoft is due to finally launch Office 365 next week. (And if there’s any indication that the cloud is now mainstream, it’s Microsoft actually having a cloud offering on the market.) Having played with the beta version, I can say that the application interface feels familiar to the desktop experience we’re all familiar with, although it’s lacking the power and functionality of Google Docs. But what will really be telling is whether Microsoft offers third party developers the ability to integrate. And if history is any indication, they won’t.
At Box, we believe that the true power of the cloud is unlocked through deep integrations and information sharing between applications. The future isn’t about a single vendor solution for all your IT needs, but rather a mix of cloud applications. But in order for this new approach to be successful, it is absolutely critical that these systems work together. We want our users to have access to the most powerful tools for their content - some of these will come from us, many of them will come from partners. Google is there, Microsoft isn’t. We look forward to a day when we can offer users the choice between a Microsoft Office experience and a Google Docs experience. But until then, we’ll continue to invest in our relationship with Google to create the best possible experience for managing documents in the cloud.