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7/14/2010
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Evernote Launches Trunk Productivity App Platform

Evernote announced Trunk -- a platform to add new types of content and user experiences to this popular productivity application for desktop and mobile clients.

Evernote announced Trunk, which amounts to an official platform approach to what has become a favorite note-taking application (the company calls it memory capturing). Using Evernote APIs, partners and ISVs can create new ways to capture and share content; for the application's users, this little application just got more powerful. The company also announced a host of official partnerships, including with Seesmic (a Twitter application), publishers and SAP StreamWork.

For the uninitiated, Evernote lets users create ideas via text, audio and video; capture PDFs and other documents; and bring in web clips. I've even imported hand-written documents using Note Taker HD on the iPad; Evernote can do a full text search on those Note Taker documents. Users can then tag and organize these documents, search them (including full text search), and share them via e-mail.

There is a web-based version, as well as client applications for desktop and mobile platforms; and there are plug-ins for Chrome and Firefox broswers. A premium version ($5 per month or $45 per year) allows light collaboration among Premium users, more cloud storage, security and support for additional document types. Evernote CEO Phil Libin said there are 3.7 million users, 145 million "memories" running on 12 platforms and in 16 languages. There are 80,000 Premium subscribers, and this number has grown 12% month-over-month for two years running, according to Libin.

If Phase one of Evernote's plan was to capture everything, Libin said, then Phase two will be about doing something with that content. The announcement of Trunk is a crucial part of that phase, though it doesn't seem to be the only part (more on that in a moment). Evernote already had plenty of API partners before Trunk, but now those partners will have a way to create tighter integration and, in many cases, make money from that integration. Libin made it very clear that the only business model Evernote is interested in is making money from Premium subscribers. Its partners will be able to charge, using a variety of potential models, including transaction within the application; Evernote will simply extract a fee for the costs. Of course, the more partners, the more popular and useful Evernote becomes, potentially driving up Premium subscription.

But Phase two, as Libin described it, will also be about discovering value from within the sea of data (and data types) stored in Evernote. He predicted that Evernote would become more about visualization and deriving semantic meaning. The inclusion of some application partners, like SAP, also predicts a more collaborative experience. While Evernote may not replace an enterprise suite of desktop productivity applications tied to a document sharing portal like Microsoft Sharepoint, it certainly can serve as a lightweight version of that for smaller workgroups, consumers and individual consultants. Libin said that the Evernote iPad client grew from 9% of its mobile user base a month ago to 18% now, so this could also be a killer application for tablets.

Evernote announced a handful of Trunk partners (there will be about 100 integrated applications, starting today). For example, Paper Boy, which will not be available yet in the U.S., will take a picture of a newspaper section or story, identify it, and then delivery it electronically to your Evernote account. Nitro PDF Reader is a rich PDF editing and annotation tool that stores those documents in Evernote. Dial2Do converts audio notes into text; you can even dial a phone number from your phone and dictate to Evernote.

Evernote's Libin also said that while the application was initially envisioned as a private place for ideas and notes, there is a growing desire to evolve it into a bi-directional bridge for collaboration. One direction is to bring social "memories" into Evernote -- an integration with Twitter app Seesmic lets you target Evernote with Tweets. But Evernote can also be a source for event-based streams using SAP's new StreamWork platform.

Libin said that connections into web publishing platforms are in the works.

Fritz Nelson is the editorial director for InformationWeek and the Executive Producer of TechWebTV. Fritz writes about startups and established companies alike, but likes to exploit multiple forms of media into his writing.

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