Ricoh's visual online storage service--enigmatically called "quanp," (short for quantum paper)--remains an ambitious undertaking. On Wednesday, it's announcing improvements to its Windows client and browser interface as part of its U.S. beta test.
I'vefor extending the reach of documents and creating interconnections between devices and the cloud before, and it's nice to see it adding new features quickly. The focus of this current upgrade is connecting tags and visual search to give the average user a lot of power and flexibility to organize and store data online.
But this is just one small step toward an ambitious, expansive goal. quanp wants to be the one core spot online for organizing and storing all your digital info. As people's lives quickly become more and more digitized, this is a natural progression and will be a growing need for computer users everywhere.
According to a Ricoh commissioned poll by marketing research company Research and Development, Inc. the "intention" to use online storage continues to increase, up to 22.3 percent. How do you suppose that compares with U.S. internet users? (Note: someone needs to name this category. "Life Portal"? "Life Aggregator System"?)
A key part of online storage and organization is how you interact with your data. I actually like the quanp interface--though the browser version lags behind the Windows client, which is very popular in Japan.
I have to think they're getting strong feedback from U.S. users that it's browser, browser, browser over here. At any rate, the UI is intuitive and not overly complicated--a nice break from the tired Windows-nested folders paradigm. Odds are you will eventually overload its simplicity and ease-of-use. But they're on to something. Simple is good.
Ultimately, quanp may connect you to some sort of lifecasting service. You can store data on quanp during the day and then easily pull from there to tweet or blog about what is happening. If they add more connections through more devices--mobile is obvious--you really could start to rely on the service.
Incidentally, quanp's kicking off a Twitter contest Wednesday, running through October 6, for a chance to win a new iPod Nano. For more info, see http://www.twitter.com/quanp.