Box goes after Microsoft Office with new productivity tools

The cloud storage company wants to replace the standard of enterprise software with apps that promise a faster viewing, sharing, and communication experience.

Aaron Levie at BoxWorks 2013 in San Francisco. Donna Tam/CNET

SAN FRANCISCO -- Box CEO Aaron Levie promised an improved and faster user experience with the launch of four new products Monday at its BoxWorks customer conference.

In addition to unveiling its integration of the recently acquired HTML5 document tool Crocodoc, Box boasted a ''dramatically improved" iOS mobile app that allows for working off line, new photo-viewing abilities, a new way to capture and share ideas, and a way to add context "to get more out of your information."

The mobile app will be out later this year.

"The cloud is still only becoming more ubiquitous," Levie said. "But as we use them more, the cloud sort of moves to the background. It's not just about technology anymore; it's about the information."

These new tools included Box Notes, a stripped-down content creation tool that Box announced earlier on Monday.

It all goes back to Levie's insistence that Box is here to take what legacy companies have done with productivity tools and make them faster, more collaborative, and geared for mobile devices. Box's mobile app has had 8 million downloads.

Box also is adding a meta data feature to its files, which would let industries like health, construction, legal services, and auto insurance add contextual data to images and other content stored in Box. It's part of Box's ongoing plan to expand its platform -- a platform that has grown from 30 apps to more than 700 since launching in April.

Levie didn't hold back while taking shots at the big dogs of tech, poking fun at Google Glass (he called it "GoPro for nerds"), Yahoo's new logo, and Microsoft's search for a new CEO. Regarding Oracle's ownership of Team USA in the America's Cup, he called the event "Larry's boat show," as a dig to Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.

"If he does lose, he's actually going to acquire New Zealand and shut it down," Levie said, spurring a round of laughs from the attendees.

As much as he joked, Levie made it clear that he thinks these companies are not innovating. And he took this act all the way to the end by having his executives juxtapose the standard tools of his competitors -- all tech veterans with built-out products -- with Box's new zippy mobile products throughout the presentation.

Update, 10:22 a.m. PT: Added more information from the event.

 

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