Box.net (news, site) is gunning for SharePoint users in a big way, holding up a mirror to all of the product's foibles and failings. But for all the marketing mayhem they are putting out, there's still a little recognition that SharePoint is a viable option -- in some instances.
Get Ready for a Boxing Match
Box.net is not only pitching itself against SharePoint, but also e-mail, FTP and any other way you can think of sharing files and working together. Still, SharePoint bears the brunt of Box's attack as the incumbent enterprise system (although Lotus Notes users will probably wonder what all the fuss is about as they email files to each other behind the admin's back).
The company is putting out provocative messages, videos and billboards to highlight the difference between the two products and how its solution just works compared to the issues that users have with SharePoint.
Comparing the two at a glance, it seems Box.net is offering sharing and collaboration without the hassle of installation and endless privilege settings, but it lacks the depth of SharePoint when it comes to flexibility and expandability within organizations.
But if all SharePoint users really do is share files, is that really a bad thing?
Engage Rant Mode in the E-Medium of Your Choice
Even so, the level of barrage is pretty intense, in the usually sedate world of business marketing. Box.net is encouraging SharePoint users to air their complaints on Twitter using the #SharePointBlues tag (so far it doesn't look that busy). Disgruntled users are also being encouraged to upload videos of their rants and moans to YouTube with the tag SharePointBlues, although, unsurprisingly, there don't seem to be many takers for that one. Finally, if you really have an axe to grind you can even buy the tee-shirt.
At the moment these methods don't seem to be generating the avalanche that Box.net was probably hoping for, but it's early days. Perhaps it will have more success with its offer to integrators, resellers and consultants who currently offer SharePoint to add Box.net to their list of options.
It's also interesting that for all the SharePoint bashing they do, Box does admit that it has its place: "we know there are many times when SharePoint is the right answer because the wide array of tools SharePoint offers above and beyond the simple sharing and management of content."
Get SharePoint Free for Three Months
All the hoopla is basically just to get attention for a new offer to 14-day trial Box.net. Give it a go, and if you like it, you get three months free usage when you sign up for a year. Don't like it and the company will pay for three months of SharePoint usage.
To complete the requirements of the trial, users must: login into the Box.net website a minimum of three times; upload one file; share the file with someone inside organization; share a file with someone outside the organization and set upon one folder for collaboration.
Share but not Share Alike
Box.net's real beef with SharePoint is that it is not easy enough to use, the video example highlights passwords, logins, permissions and browser incompatibilities. Perhaps rather than ragging on SharePoint, a video highlighting how Box.net is better than SharePoint in real world situations would have been better.
Box.net also focuses on SharePoint's use as a file-sharing mule. However, that does rather ignore all the extras that third-parties have developed for SharePoint to fine tune it for particular industries.
With SharePoint 2010 now released as a technical preview, just how long will Box.net's claims remain applicable for?