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Box to offer usage-based pricing, file conversion service

Stephen Lawson | March 27, 2014
As it heads toward an estimated US$250 million initial public offering, cloud storage and collaboration provider Box is thinking outside, well, itself.

Also on Wednesday, the company introduced Box View, the first service that's independent of its cloud storage platform. Box View converts Microsoft Office documents and PDFs to HTML5 for easy embedding in a website. The documents don't have to be stored with Box in order to be converted, Yeh said, so any developer can take advantage of the service.

Once a file is converted, Box's work is done and the HTML5 version can be delivered over the Web. Box View can deliver that document either in a standard Box-branded viewer or in raw HTML5, which users can put into customized views. To create those views, they can use Viewer.js, which Box is providing as a free and open-source tool. Viewer.js offers tricks such as letting users flip through the pages of a document as if in a virtual book. Developers can create their own views and share those as open source.

Box View is based on technology from Crocodoc, a startup that Box acquired last year. It launched the service mostly to engage developers and is charging heavy users mostly just to cover its costs, Yeh said. Ultimately, an enterprise that uses Box View to display some documents may be more open to buying the Box cloud service in the future, he said.

Box View is available in a free plan with up to 1,000 document conversions per month. The Box View Custom plan, for enterprises that use a custom viewer, costs $250 per month for up to 2,500 conversions. Another plan for large enterprise users allows for more than 10,000 conversions per month. Pricing for that is provided on request, Box said.

At the developer conference, the company also announced the ability to add metadata to files in Box. For example, doctors could attach a patient's name and birth date to an X-ray image, making it easier to find among other images. Certain metadata, such as expiration dates for contracts, could also be used to trigger notifications or other actions, Yeh said. Metadata was announced as a private beta last year and is now generally available.


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