Note-taking software provider Evernote originally wanted to delve into the hardware business as far back as 2007, with an egg-like device capable of recording conversations, the company’s CEO said on Tuesday.
“The original Evernote idea was actually a ‘hardware software together’ idea,” Phil Libin said in an interview. “I would put it (the egg-like device) between us and it would record everything—audio, video—and it would have beautiful software to remember all that stuff.”
Evernote, however, shelved the idea because of costs, and the rising popularity of smartphones. But now that’s starting to change. Last month, Libin said Evernote was working to release branded hardware products with partners.
“I always believed that the best possible user experience is when you make the hardware and software together,” he said on Tuesday. “So we’ve always wanted to get back to that.”
Some of the hardware products it wants to build could include common household objects, he added. Libin pointed to the Evernote’s recent partnership with Moleskine to make a paper notebook, as an example. With Evernote’s Page Camera feature, users can snap photos of notebook’s specially formatted pages to instantly convert what’s written on them digitally.
“I don’t think we’re going to make a phone or a tablet,” he said. “But I think Apple has shown that the really magical products are when you have the hardware and software designed together.”
Libin was in Beijing on Tuesday to speak at the Global Mobile Internet Conference, where he launched the Chinese edition of Evernote Business, a paid service that helps archive and organize a company’s internal information for easy access to employees. Libin said that it’s a particularly prime time to launch the service, given that increasingly more Chinese businesses are moving away from manufacturing in favor for the services sector.
Just a year ago, the company launched the Chinese edition of Evernote’s main note-taking service. China is the company’s third largest market, behind the U.S. and Japan, with over 4 million users. In total Evernote has 60 million users worldwide.
Evernote hopes its brand name will eventually become synonymous with knowledge-related products, according to Libin. “I kind of want to be like Nike, like how Nike is for athleticism,” he said. “I want Evernote to be like that for your brain.”
Libin, however, expects that kind of brand-building will take many decades to achieve. But in the meantime, Evernote could revisit the idea of building egg-like recorders.
“It would be fun to try that again at some point,” he said. “But I don’t know if people would want to carry an egg in their pocket.”