Evernote, which makes popular note-taking software that allows you to create and synchronize digital notes across gadgets, unveiled a decidedly retro image of its future at its annual conference Thursday in San Francisco: Post-it notes.
In front of a crowd of nearly 1,000 reporters, developers, partners, and Evernote employees, Phil Libin, Evernote’s CEO, and Jesse Singh, global leader of the Post-it and Scotch brands for 3M, introduced a new Evernote mobile app that can easily digitize the ubiquitous office notes.
The partnership was just one of several announced by Evernote on Thursday with makers of physical products. There are new Evernote-ready notebooks from Moleskine, as well as a $75 stylus developed with Adonit, and a $495 ScanSnap scanner built with Fujitsu. Evernote also rolled out a section of its website called the Evernote Market, where users can buy these and other Evernote-branded products.
For a company that launched in 2008 with the goal of eliminating paper, and that has grown to include over 75 million users, it may sound like a strange move. Libin himself acknowledged that it “may seem a bit weird.”
Yet for Evernote, it may be the most sensible way to get its product in front of millions more potential users. And it may be increasingly lucrative as we spend more time on a multitude of gadgets while still interacting with the world of “offline” products around us.
The Post-its look like normal sticky notes, but with an update to Evernote’s iPhone app users will be able to select a “Post-it Note” mode so that the app’s camera recognizes the shape, color, and size of the note, can recognize and index the handwriting on it, and add a location and time stamp to the digital version of the note. There’s also an option within the app to assign each of four Post-it note colors to upload to a different digital notebook. Evernote can already do essentially the same thing with pages of the “smart” Moleskine notebooks.
“I think there is this arrogance of digital companies, and we were as guilty of this as everyone else, of being dismissive of old technology,” Libin said after the presentation.
The partnership between Evernote and 3M could be a moneymaker. Libin said onstage that the existing Moleskine partnership had resulted in the sale of “hundreds of thousands” of notebooks; chances are the expectations for sales of the more ubiquitous Post-it pads are even higher.