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Box.net Beefs Up Online Content Management Collaboration

Box.net Online Storage

Box.net online storage
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Online storage and file-sharing provider Box.net plans to release on Thursday an upgrade that adds better features for people to collaborate on documents over the Web.

The new capabilities are expected to appeal to small businesses and work groups within larger organizations.

"When people connect within a business, it's around content -- what they're working on," Aaron Levie, chief executive of Box.net, said in a statement released Wednesday. "We're taking what we have -- a secure, intuitive content management tool -- and enhancing and building upon that connection between people."

According to Gartner research supplied by Box.net, content, communications, and collaboration products account for the biggest share of the software-as-a-service market. The market segment is expected to more than double to $4.7 billion in 2012 from $2.1 billion in 2008.

New features in Box.net include the ability to set up for each employee a profile page that includes information on his or her role in current projects and latest activity on documents, such as editing, commenting on, or discussing. The page also includes contact information, such as e-mail and phone number.

Box.net says it also has improved the layout of its file system, so that it appears less like a file manager and more like a team workspace. People now see the people sharing files, instead of just folders and files.

Enhanced team workspace features include the ability to launch an online discussion with everyone in a shared workspace and the ability to add a Web site link, description, and comments for sharing online research findings. Finally, users can view the latest activity across all shared content, including comments, discussions, edits, and uploaded documents.

The business version of Box.net's service is priced at $15 per month per user. The company also offers at no charge basic functionality for people with minimal collaboration needs. Box.net claims to have 50,000 companies of all sizes using its service.

Many other companies provide storage, file sharing, and collaboration over the Web. They range from small companies like Huddle.net to the big guns like Google.