Thursday, January 05, 2012

Evernote: INC Magazine's Company of the Year

INC Magazine published an article about Evernote as their company of the year. I'd say they deserve it. I've used Evernote since version 1. I was a beta tester for Evernote 2.0, which got me a copy of Evernote 2.0 Professional after the final was released. At the time, I kept bouncing back and forth between Evernote and Microsoft OneNote. I eventually settled on Evernote for various reasons.

Evernote 2.0 Pro came with a portable version, so I could keep the .exe along with my files on a thumb drive and carry it back and forth from home to work, in the glory days when I still had admin access on my work computers and thumb drives weren't banned by policy.

Also, Evernote's Web Clipper, from Day 1, was amazing. It would clip anything. OneNote's was sort of hit and miss.

After Evernote got money and their CEO bought a Mac, Evernote 3.0 came out, with a centralized web access and mobile clients. I could keep all my notes synced between the desktop client, web, my mobile, and even a company issued BlackBerry I used to have with admin rights.

By this point, the web client works so well, I hardly ever use the desktop client. I still use Evernote on my iPhone and iPad.

You can use Evernote for a ton of things. I'd say the only limits are your own imagination. Scanners are available that allow you to scan documents straight to Evernote. I've used it for school, work, taxes, my blog, my personal journal, my brief stint in real estate, and a bunch more. When I had to produce weekly and monthly reports on a job a couple of years ago, I kept them in Evernote.

I have notes in Evernote going back to 2003. That's how long I've been on it. It's come a long way. I highly recommend it.

The article discusses Evernote's freemium business model. It was very hard for the company to get cash initially because of this model. The free version of Evernote has always been full featured. That's one of the reasons I've stuck with it so long. I've been looking for a good task or project management type software lately. Many of them offer a version that I find too limited to test drive, but I'm not willing to pay $10 a month to get what might be enough features to find out whether it's usable or not it's worth the price.

On the freemium model, Evernote's CEO says:

Libin explained his theory: The more stuff you put in Evernote, the more important the service would be to you. Who would begrudge $5 a month to a company that was storing your memories and helping you retrieve them? "Your notes, your restaurants, your friends, a year of your life, then years of your life," says Libin. "That's worth thousands." The danger wasn't that people wouldn't upgrade, he argued; it was that they wouldn't try the service in the first place or wouldn't stick with it because the free version was skimpy and failed to impress. Get them to fall in love with the service, and they would eventually pay, because they would be invested in its success. "I want to build a 100-year company, and I'm serious about that," says Libin. "I don't need to squeeze money out of you. I'll have the rest of your life to take your money. It's my long-term greedy strategy. Our slogan is, 'We'd rather you stay than pay.' Basically, I wanted a business model that rhymed."
Another statement from the article representing a part of the company's philosophy that has always kept me using it:

One thing Libin says he refuses to worry about is competition. And there are, in fact, vaguely competitive products and services. Most notable among them is Microsoft's OneNote, which has some of the same features and comes with Microsoft Office. But it doesn't provide Evernote's effortless toss-in-any-kind-of-note-on-any-device environment and hasn't achieved nearly the traction that Evernote has. Nevertheless, it's inevitable that more and better competitors will emerge. When that happens, Evernote users will be able to painlessly take their memories and leave, because Libin has insisted that the information be made easy to export, so that no one feels locked in to the service. "We used to have a saying in the Soviet Union: 'Any country that you're free to leave, you're free to live in,'" he says. "We want our users to feel free to leave."

(Emphasis mine). I have never felt a lock-in to Evernote.

Another freemium product I've stuck with over the years is Remember The Milk. It's not perfect. It does have some serious limitations, but it's so easy and reliable, no matter how hard I try to leave, I can't. I had a Pro account for a year. They keep rolling pro features down to free users.
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