SAN FRANCISCO -- Box has been busy over the last year in filling out its cloud-based platform from just a storage locker to a fully-fledged collaboration platform for the enterprise.
The latest play from the Los Altos, Calif.-based company comes in the form of a new word processing app dubbed Box Notes.
Chris Yeh, senior vice president of product and platform at Box, explained via telephone on Friday that the creation and debut of Notes is an answer to its customers, who have been asking for more "informal" ways to collaborate on the platform.
Yeh theorized that there has been a shift in the workplace away from "formal" software programs like Microsoft Office in favor of cloud-based apps such as Google Drive, WordPress and Evernote.
And at first glance, Box Notes does spark some warranted comparisons to the aforementioned apps with a toolbar of the bare basic editing tools, real-time file syncing, and not much else on the screen except a blank page to start.
Yeh described Notes as "super simple application," supporting simultaneous work and annotation among colleagues in real-time. And like standard Box folders, Yeh stressed heightened security levels that are displayed front and center as users can see who has access to the document at all times.
However, Yeh downplayed any industry competition here, reiterating third-party support for collaborative and word-processing apps directly through Box to Google Docs and Salesforce.com, among many others.
There are actually a number of factors still holding Box Notes back from being a prominent competitor in this particular regard anyway -- at least for the time being.
Although Notes has already been rolled out internally at Box, it is only being launched in private beta mode to a select number of users this fall with a wider release planned for 2014.
Furthermore, Yeh acknowledged that Google Apps, for example, offers a more complete package being that Drive supports the creation of not just word documents but also slide presentations, spreadsheets, forms and more.
As far as Evernote is concerned, Yeh emphasized the enterprise versus consumer angle here.
"They have a product directed at just about anybody," Yeh remarked. "One of the advantages we have is that within Box is that [the user is] always able to see who is in what content. That social model for us -- the enterprise social model -- helps us, compared to Evernote, which starts as a product for an individual user."
Nevertheless, the soft launch of Box Notes does mark a significant milestone for the enterprise cloud company, which is expected to go public as soon as next year.
According to company reps, there are approximately 180,000 businesses on Box now (including 97 percent of the Fortune 500) with roughly 20 million users subscribed.
While he didn't provide an exact time frame, Yeh responded that Notes has been in development since at least the beginning of 2013.
He also noted that Notes was actually built from the ground up by in-house developers and not based on resources brought in by Box's recent acquisition of HTML5 document embedding service, Crocodoc.
For a closer look at Box Notes, check out the promo video below:
Images via Box