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Evernote's fall from grace is complete, with sale to Italian app maker
Frustrate enough users and your product will stumble. Hint, hint, Elon
Note-taking app Evernote, once a darling of busy tech aficionados, announced the end of its 14-year run as an independent company today with its sale to Italian mobile app company Bending Spoons.
It's an ignoble end for once-great Evernote, which as recently as 2018 – its tenth anniversary – boasted some 225 million registered users. It's unclear how many are using the app now, with Bending Spoons only saying in a press release that the app has "millions of paying customers."
Ian Small, CEO at Evernote, said the decision was a strategic step forward for Evernote, and that Bending Spoons "has built a remarkable business with strong financials and has the ability and resources to propel Evernote forward."
"Our commitment to keeping your data safe and secure remains as steadfast as ever, and the Evernote you know and love will continue to thrive," Small said.
Bending Spoons has several mobile apps on offer that it says are used by around 100 million users a month. Its products include several video and photo editing apps, as well as workout and yoga apps. Bending Spoons was also contracted by the Italian government to build its COVID-19 tracing app.
The quiet, gradual fall of a titan
When Evernote appeared in 2008 it was one of the first cloud-synced note-taking apps on the market, making it an immediate favorite for folks using a hot new iPhone 3G or T-Mobile G1 alongside a desktop for work.
The company had a blissful few years of growth – aside from the occasional cloud hack or DDoS attack – and didn't really start to earn much user ire until 2016, when it chose to bring the ax down on its free tier.
The "basic" tier of Evernote introduced that year limited users that didn't want to pay to syncing just two devices and uploading only 60MB of content per month. As of today, free tier users are also limited to a 25MB max size per note.
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2016 was arguably the year things turned for Evernote. It's also the year Evernote finally ditched its in-house cloud service and moved to Google Cloud, and the year the company made what was probably its worst blunder.
In December 2016, Evernote told users it had developed an AI system that would review notes, as well as data from other sources, which it would use to tailor user experiences. Evernote staff were also going to be able to access user notes under the update.
Needless to say, there was a massivre outcry, and many people dropped the platform. Evernote reversed its plans, which also included users needing to opt out of its privacy invasion, within a day of rolling them out.
Fast forward to 2020, and headlines regarding Evernote mainly consisted of wondering what became of the once-dominant platform. Evernote did plan a comeback in 2020 with the release of its version 10, but reactions to the total redesign in the release appear to have been overwhelmingly negative – at least from vocal users.
Now, Evernote is barely a blip on the mobile app radar. On iOS, for instance, it doesn't even rank among the top 100 productivity apps.
Small points out yet another reason Evernote may have lost its luster over the past few years: A lack of new features. "Our new collaborative editing capability … is in early days of beta testing around the world. At the same time, we are within weeks of beta-ing our new support for Office 365 calendars," Small said. Collaborative document editing has been around for a long time, and isn't necessarily something to brag about in 2022.
Whether Evernote will emerge from this sale stronger is unclear. Nor is it clear what changes in terms of pricing and features may come out of the sale. Evernote users – however numerous or few they may be – will have to wait until 2023 when the sale closes to find out. ®