I have been increasingly impressed with how creatively and powerfully so many companies and startups are capitalizing on the cloud. This all makes sense because the cloud is only useful if you use it. You will use it more if it is easy, organized, and accessible.
Evernote is another one of those cool new companies that understand these dynamics. That understanding is a big reason 50 million people are using Evernote’s app by the same name and another 100,000 users are downloading it each month. I think Evernote’s attention to detail, its technical accuracy, and its understanding of how people want to interact with their apps are keys to Evernote’s success. Rob Walker enumerates Evernote’s complex, yet simple-to-use, functionalities (“The Cult of Evernote” Bloomberg Businessweek 3/4/12–3/10/12, pp. 60–65):
“You type, or clip or upload a new ‘note’ (an image, a recording, or a Web page) into the right-hand column; store it in a ‘notebook’ listed on the left-hand side; and browse or search in the middle. The promise is that Evernote saves your ideas, documents your meetings, archives articles, reminds you what your kid wants for Christmas, and coughs up the business card of Plaid Jacket Guy from that conference in Scottsdale. In addition to segregating such material into notebooks, users can organize it with tags, but don’t have to. Evernote’s search function, with optical character recognition that even picks up words within pictures, is impressively accurate and speedy. The effectiveness of this function is crucial, because the willingness to dump work and personal material in one place is central to Evernote’s worldview.” (p. 64)
As with many of these personal-productivity apps, for most people the free version is sufficient. Pay a few bucks a year, and you can upgrade to the versions with more storage, bells, and whistles. That approach alone has always impressed me because the bottom line is you increase your user base significantly. Your revenue stream arises from the small percentage of users who are willing to upgrade. Simultaneously, you have a growing customer base, and some of these will eventually convert to sales.
Evernote’s Web site declares its goal:
“To help the world remember everything, communicate effectively and get things done.”
Although I am not a current user of Evernote, I am beginning to give it serious consideration. Hey—I am all for more effectiveness in memory, communication, and accomplishment!