Evernote was on top of the world for a while. The California note-taking app surfed the explosion of tech productivity in the 2000s and became the leader in its field. But then it fell from grace, slow, buggy and expensive. Users left the platform and flocked to other note-taking apps.
And it looks like more change is on the way. on January 3 the sale of Evernote to Italian company Bending Spoons was finally confirmed.
On the one hand, this can be a concern for the remaining users. Evernote will no longer be an independent company, which means there could be huge changes in its current direction. But on the other hand… right?
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I was an Evernote user for almost a decade before I switched last year. Things had just gotten too bad with the bloated, slow, and cumbersome software, so I turned to Bear, a sleek and beautiful piece of app.
With a new owner, Evernote now has a chance at a clean start. Bending Spoons already has that a series of consumer apps that are modern, powerful and intuitive, and we have to believe that the Italian company will use its expertise to shape a new Evernote.
The question is what should it do? How can Bending Spoons return Evernote to its former glory? Well, we have some ideas.
Speed up Evernote apps
While writing and searching speeds were acceptable on desktops, mobile devices were not, especially if they were a few years old.
If Bending Spoons wants to bring the shine back to Evernote, making the app offerings as blazing fast as possible would be a good place to start.
Remove the swelling…
In the mid-2010s, when Evernote was in the process of accepting huge amounts of VC funds, the company diversified its offerings to unlock more revenue streams. What that buzzword phrase means in human language is that Evernote packed a bunch of features into the app and tried to be active in as many stores as possible.
Much of this was poorly planned and tested, leading to the software being infamously described as a “insect-infested elephantby Jason Kincaid.
While there have been upgrades to Evernote since then that have improved overall performance, it still feels like the app is trying to do too much. Sure, having multimedia capabilities and integration in multiple apps is great for some people, but Evernote’s core mission should be note-taking. Instead, it feels focused on things like chat, calendar, and tasks, despite these parts of its software performing much worse than competitors.
Bending Spoons should look at scaling back Evernote’s features, or allowing people to easily disable certain features so the app can work as seamlessly as possible.
…but combine app functionality
Evernote has a range of different apps outside of the core software – and some of these need to be folded back into the main product.
On the one hand, combining these apps in Evernote goes against the point above to reduce bloat, but hear me out.
The software has tried to do many of the things you wouldn’t want a note-taking app to do. For example, why would I ever want to chat about the same thing I write about?
But look again at those apps above. They include a sketcher, a document scanner, and a handwriting app – all things that come in handy when taking notes. Rather than being shielded from Evernote and largely forgotten about, these should be the key features to make the note-taking process as powerful as possible.
Lower the price of Evernote
Cost played a big part in leaving Evernote. I then paid €70 a year to take notes. That’s a silly amount – especially with how I used it.
I never got close to the allotted 10 GB of storage per month, didn’t need calendar integration or task management, and never found a reason to connect to Google Drive. What did I pay € 70 per year for?
Bear – my current app – costs me about €14 ($15) for the same time period, and I can’t say I’ve missed any of Evernote’s features since my transition.
I understand there will be some power users who want to use a full range of features, but I guarantee there are many more who just want to cut sites and save notes. So why not introduce a level closer to €20 per year? Something that offers all the basic features people need?
Finally, Evernote must respect users
If Bending Spoons wants to save Evernote and reclaim its former glory, the first thing it needs to do is respect users. Stop forcing upgrades on people at every possible opportunity. Stop being so overly restrictive about the number of devices individuals can use the free version on. Stop ignoring user complaints.
Instead, there should be a culture of respect and dialogue, where those who use Evernote are treated like human beings, rather than walking around with dollar signs.
Yes, Evernote took a fall, but it still has a strong enough brand and enough fans to become special again. The days of the rampant tech boom are over, but there’s still room for great apps that do simple things well. Let’s see if Bending Spoons can pull that off.