Cloud storage and document sharing startup Box.net is the latest startup to adopt HTML5. The startup is announcing today that it is incorporating a broad implementation of HTML5 drag and drop functionality that supports native interaction with desktop. So basically, you can drag and drop files from the desktop right into your Box.net web application.
The feature works on Firefox 3.6 and Chrome for PC (with support for Safari and Chrome on all platforms coming in the next few weeks). Box’s CEO and co-founder Aaron Levie says that Flash didn’t allow this at all due to security issues. While this is a small addition in terms of functionality, he believes that HTML5 provides a much richer user experience when it comes to enterprise applications and the interaction between the browser and the operating system . “HTML5 is the nail on the coffin of desktop applications because we can create this rich interactive experience that acts like a native app.” Levie adds that HTML5 is also appealing because it works on every device.
Interestingly, Box launched a Flash-based document viewer earlier this year, so it seems like the site isn’t completely switching over to HTML5 yet. Levie says that while the technology will most probably be turned on fully in the future, at the moment only 35 percent of users have HTML5 browsers, so Levie says Box has some time before fully switching over from Flash to HTML5.
But it’s certainly interesting to see how HTML5 is now improving the experience of enterprise-focused web applications. We’ve seen the functionality’s strength in video, web format and even document viewing, but the enterprise arena is a relatively new area.
Since its launch in 2005, Box.net has steadily been growing its cloud-based content management system, and has now accumulated more than 4 million users, with hundreds of thousands of businesses using the application. And the startup is seeing top line growth, with a 500% rise in revenue from 2008 to 2009, and a record first quarter – up 300% from Q1 2009 – thanks to deals with the Oprah Winfrey Network, Volvo, and Nokia Siemens are using Box.net (Box declined to give us exact revenue numbers). And the startup just raised $15 million in funding.
Levie seems pretty passionate about the potential influence of HTML5 on the enterprise, even saying that “HTML5 will be the death of desktop software.” Box plans to add HTML5-enabled functions like pausing/resuming uploads, offline caching, and multiple file select in the near future.