In defense of Evernote, the last great Unicorn

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I have been an using Evernote for the longest time. It has not only helped me digitize and archive my life, it has also helped me simplify many of things which would’ve ended up on a napkin years ago. It helped me revisit ideas and materials years later and helped me rethink of better solutions that I can bring about today.
Evernote which started off as a note taking desktop application moved into the mobile app business. With there huge success they started rolling out many other applications and services that centered around archiving basically anything digital that you come across. They once used to have a plethora of products that used their massive archiving backend but now they streamlined it to FIVE main products;
  • Skitch, which helped you to annotate images
  • Web Clipper, it brought in Pocket like web archiving functionality.
  • Scannable, you could virtually scan any document it would capture your document and archive it with no manual cropping needed.
  • Penultimate was an acquisition that led to archiving hand drawn or written notes into Evernote. These are just to name a few. They have gone through multiple iterations to nail the right user interface and boy! they have the best app designs in the market today.
They have also partnered with multiple hardware vendors like Adonit, Moleskin & ScanSnap and worked on building hardware solutions that enable us to incorporate Evernote into our lives in a seamless way. 
So the $1 billion question is;
Is note taking dead? The answer is No.
Is Evernote the current King of the hill, Yes
Can it remain to be the King of the hill? No
Will there be a new king, No

Here’s why…

With the success of Evernote, every tech giant and start-up wants a piece of the pie. Google started building Keep, Microsoft started building OneNote, Pocket focused on archiving and many many more. Some of the aspects Evernote pioneered while some Evernote played catchup like the latest feature to date, WorkChat. This feature was introduced after the huge success of Slack, Whatapp and Facebook Messenger. Even I tried to take a crack at it with Sermonotes.
What I am saying is, there won’t be just one King instead there will be many Kings.

Why am I writing this?

This article is in response to an article i came across in the Business Insider called “Evernote, the first dead unicorn” written by Josh Dickson. In that article he discusses about how unicorn startups are no longer rare and are bound to be doomed, on how Phil Libin, Founder of Evernote is no longer passionate about leading the business and how Evernote tried everything and became the King of none.
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I read the article and saw how one dimensional his take was. He was hell bent on focusing on only one thing and that was Evernote was doomed and he would go to length to arrange half information to point in that direction. Here are a few such except was;

Evernote knows it. Late last year, the company attempted to roll out a messaging product, Work Chat. I reached out to a number of friends to ask if they had heard about it or used it at their company, with the answer being a resounding, “No and why is Evernote making a chat application?”

 

The product certainly seems to be a flop in the market. Many Evernote users want to remove it entirely from their note-taking software.

Me: OneNote has gone below the 100 mark multiple times while evernotes rankings looks like blips.
Looking at the Y-axis you can see its like comparing apple to watermelons
Showing reviews of evernpte versus snapchat…way to go!, basically reaffirming my watermelon statement above.
Is it really wrong to enter a new product late? Facebook entered the Messenger late, Google entered the note taking game late and Apple entered the TV console game late. How does one entering a new line of business amount to bad business? If I am using the logic of why enter the messenger business, then Apple wouldn’t have moved to the mobile computing business either.
He continues;
Evernote is in the midst of a sizable, prolonged decline in relevance in numerous areas.
On the product side, customers are slowly  beginning not to care about the product, while downloads slip and competitors offer better products, many of them, like OneNote, free.
Me: Classic example of a generalised blanket statement. I do not know where is it stated that customers began to ignore the product.
He goes on;
Glassdoors reviews of Evernote paint a picture of a company suffering internally from the things customers are seeing externally.
 
Me: What! Since Josh went to great length to look at Glassdoor he should might as well start looking at OneNote creators Microsoft’s ratings.

Josh decides to give advice

The lesson for management teams at other unicorns is clear from Evernote: Forget worrying about whether you’re going to be around in 100 years, and refocus on making products that people want that will make money.

Me: Yep! using that advise and hoping no one would innovate Microsoft and Blackberry still would be been a dominant force in mobile computing today. Its all about catching up and staying ahead of the game.

Conclusion

Phil Libin lost his passion and many founders do but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of something. Evernote build great products and is always first to show their presence, like how they were the first to launch their app for Apple Watch. That’s how cutting they are.
To me the whole article by Josh Dickson was very distasteful and felt as though he was with paid to write against Evernote or he wanted to use his write as content marketing for Syrah. I truly hope he he stops connecting the dots with a line while in fact it’s been a part of the curve all along. He needs to see the light very soon because he did try to milk the web stat cow with a Part 2 which no sign of repentence.
“No point trying to convince people who are hellbent on being misunderstood” – Dr. A. R. Bernard

How Fossil is set to save the future of the fashion world

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Failure to embrace change leads to market cannibalisation.

The 90’s was just the beginning

For years the tech companies remained as technology focused enablers for the business world. Focusing on building supercomputers to punching cards by solving business problems. But as time passed the tech industry morphed in doing what it was already good at and also transisitioned into the personal tech revolution. Apple in 1984 introduced the first truly personal computer and then the revolution contnued with the introduction of Windows 95, iPod, Smartphones and so on.
The 90’s marked the transition into the personal space but it wasn’t enough. The industry pursued even more aggressively into the next phase of personal tech. It became so personal that privacy become a concern, I discuss my thoughts on privacy extensively in my previous post “Why I switched to DuckDuckGo and ran back to Google running”, you can read more here.

Design takes centerstage

As time flew, services were created around great personal information we openly shared. But these were all softwares, web based and digitally contained. It was difficult to transition these great services into tangible products that could be held, felt and to interact with. Motorola with the introduction of RAZR did try to address this void but it was created in an era of no services and ended up becoming a one hit wonder.
Introducting Jony Ive of Apple. He believed that it made a lot of sense to introduce design centric products. Products that did not separate the hardware and software experiences but melded it together to create a “one-ness” when users interacted with Apple’s products and services. Everyone took notice.
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Jony’s revolution inspired other personal tech giants to incorporate their design centric philosophy to their products and services. Some did extremely well and some failed poorly. This approach left to these tech giants to define what personal devices had to look like from phones, laptop computers, thermostats to even your own watch.
To me there is an inherent flaw to this approach. If tech industry defines what design and fashion looks like, we are going to only get and see designs that accommodate their tech.
The fashion industry may have been taking a beating to stay relevant. But for years they have been trying hard to enter the tech space but failed because they tried to create their products by themselves and in vacuum. Take Will.i.am for example, he has been churning out products what he thinks is fashionable and technologically advanced but all were huge failures as it was not created with good partners. Brands like Vertu tried and only a few get to use them because of their high price tag and small shelf life.

A new partnership is necessary

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For anyone, its incredibly tough to survive the tech industry. New startups, products and services are created every minute. Fashion has eras, seasons and periods. Meaningful partnerships are the only way out. Look at Beats, they initially partnered with Monster to create their headphones and they did redefine the music industry.
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The good news is, Fossil announced this week that their partnership with Intel to create smartwatches and accessories. Fossil has been making leather goods and fashion accessories for years and their recent move to smartwatches may be a reaction to the reception that Apple Watch has been getting. Its a smart move partnering with Intel and Google to create a robust product. Intel has been wowing audiences for many years on the internet of things and Google has been the perfect enabler for any business   to enter the tech race. This means trouble for Apple, Motorola, LG and Samsung if this partnership goes well.

Fashion forward

I believe this is the only way forward for the fashion industry. If the fashion doesn’t take the lead in defining personal tech industry, other industries will define it for them and that’s a fact. Look at what Samsung and Apple has been throwing at us for years. The same old and predictable.
With Fossil’s entrance the revolution has begun.

Why I switched to DuckDuckGo and ran back to Google crying

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In the name of Proactivity

In this day and age of connected living, our lives have been radically changed for the better. But on the down side, our privacy took a beating. In the name of proactive services, tech giants like Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft started creating services to “enrich” our lives with services like Facebook Advertising, Google Now, Siri and Cortana. Your behaviour online is fodder for these tech companies to create services, analyse future trends and monetize their ads network.

The last of the tech giants, Microsoft has now baked their cloud services extensively in the latest Windows 10 by collecting anonymous user logs back to its servers. This has been extensively covered by The Verge, click here for more.

If you use them, you will know how amazing these services are. These services made me feel like Tony Stark with my handy wingman Jarvis. These experiences were not only cool and got creepy at times in a good way.

Enter Super-Duck

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Here comes DuckDuckGo, founded by Gabriel Weinberg, He decided to take real privacy to a whole new level. DuckDuckGo is a search engine that doesn’t collect any user data. Of course, they don’t need to collect anything as they don’t have any other services to offer other than give you relevant search data. Fast Company magazine wrote an amazing article titled “Inside DuckDuckGo, Inside Google’s tiniest fiercest competitor“, click here to read more.

I got even excited when Apple made DuckDuckGo as an option to use as your default search engine for iOS. Apple during their 2015 WWDC announced that are taking strides in ensuring they are not taking the Google route and that privacy is a real concern and a matter of importance for their consumers. Click here to read more on TechCrunch

Embracing a bold new philosophy

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I bought into their philosophy and immediately started taking steps to ensure my data was iron clad. I changed my default search engine to DuckDuckGo, revised my privacy setting in Google and diversified my tech portfolio (yes, I started using Microsoft Services).

It was great at first, I searched on DuckDuckGo and I was pretty surprised with the quality of the search results it produced. The UI was familiar and navigating around the site wasn’t a chore. On the other hand, Google Services started acting out. To name a few, Google constantly reminded me on how great life would get if i enabled Google Now to how terrible it would be if I didn’t enable the search history on Google Maps. Facebook too kept on asking me to enable location, update my phone number, update about me and so on. The only winner in this period was Microsoft as I started using Outlook as my primary email driver.

The next phase of my life didn’t want change

Then I entered the next chapter of my life with the arrival of my baby girl. I share more about my experience on daddy hood on Daddylogs. I searched constantly on how to swaddled her, feed her and what each of her need meant. But frustration grew as the search results were not what I was looking for. I had to move around quite a bit and Google couldn’t deliver as I didn’t fully embrace their services. Thinking it was only a phase, I grew even more frustrated and I manually started typing google.com and started searching for results. Two weeks later, I threw in the towel and changed to Google and its services.

Conclusion

Google has immensely invested into refining its results and its technologies over the years. Even with the introduction of Alphabet, Google’s world class algorithm is still a force to be reckoned with. Changing a behaviour that has been engrained over the years is not easy and I didn’t want to reorganise my digital life just because of a new philosophy. Even though I do understand the gravity of privacy and the need to defend it, I am a firm believer that companies will eventually circumvent these issues and create new concerns.

Basically, its a never ending cycle of cat and mouse.

What Google’s move to Alphabet means to us

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The unlikely geeks emerge

We all have been immensely blessed by the services Google offered over the past decade. I still remember how mind blown me and my buddies in college felt when Gmail was launched with 1GB of free space compared to 100MB (if i recall correctly) which Hotmail offered during that time. Google has grown tremendously since, with Youtube being a household name via acquisition and Android taking over the world and not forgetting Google itself evolving itself from a sage on top of a mountain to your trusty wingman through Google Now.

There has been a couple of shuffles in Google over the past few years. This is very common in the IT sector but most of the time restructuring usually happens when companies struggle to stay afloat. But what Google did with the announcement of Alphabet was somewhat radical and unexpected because everything was going fine the way it was.

From AT&T to IBM to GE to Microsoft, tech companies have always searched for a way to avoid becoming the next incumbent that gets complacent and then disrupted. Google tried X, now it’s trying Alphabet. — The Verge

The Billion Dollar question is whether is Google to Alphabet a rebranding exercise or was it something bigger than all that?

My Take

I believe there are a FIVE desired outcomes with the introduction of Alphabet.

  1. Google becomes a part of the puzzle than the main solution itself.
  2. Entities within Alphabet like Youtube, Google X, Android and so on gets more freedom by operating as individual entities than align to Google’s vision.
  3. Even though structurally the Larry, Page and Brin still are overseeing Alphabet, they get to venture into new moonshot projects.
  4. Decentralizing helps Alphabet operate as a funding source and bring a startup culture to the overall business. This also helps make acquisitions easier and integrating it better. Do the remaining entities need to be profitable to exist is yet to be seen.
  5. Sundar Pichai. He has been the talk of the town after he took over Android and has been the crowd favorite. I do have a gut feeling that its going to give rise to many tech superstars like him.

Conclusion

At the end of the day its business as usual and there will be more offerings from Alphabet to the world. Would it deliver the same shock and awe experience we all did in the early 2000s? Lets sit this one out.