Evernote gets built-in, third-party app directory

Web-based memory service unveils "The Trunk," a directory of third-party sites and a set of tools that can be integrated for added functionality.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
3 min read

SAN FRANCISCO--Web-based memory service Evernote on Wednesday unveiled what it's calling the next phase of its business with something called "The Trunk."

The Trunk is both a directory of third-party sites and a set of tools that can be integrated into the Evernote service to bring additional functionality. According to Evernote CEO Phil Libin, who held a press conference about the new offering here, The Trunk is not an app store, per se, but it will let other companies more easily bring features to the product that Evernote itself could not.

Libin said more than 2,000 partners are taking advantage of the company's APIs. However, at launch, The Trunk will contain just 100 items from 67 different companies. These are split up by category to serve both mobile and desktop Web users.

This built-in directory is being rolled out to Windows, Mac, and Web versions of Evernote on Wednesday, followed shortly thereafter by iPad, iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry clients. Some of the initial partners include: Nitro PDF, which now offers a "send to Evernote" option in its software; Seesmic, which Evernote is working with to let its users export notes to the service; and Dial2Do, which is offering a voice transcription service that can transcribe audio notes into text notes, then save them to a user's Evernote library.

When users want to add one of these features, or simply browse third-party Evernote-integrated services, they'll be able to simply click the new Trunk button, which opens up the directory within the Evernote application:

The new trunk button
The new "Trunk" button. Evernote

For now, any paid service option from one of these third-parties will be done on that company's site, but Libin said a release later this year will include a built-in payment system so that users don't have to leave the app. The company also plans to add revenue sharing and an affiliate program for third-parties to make money off being featured in the directory.

Along with new features, the Trunk will also serve as a place for content providers to offer what the company is calling "branded notebooks." These are pieces of content like articles and features from publishers--including California Home and Design, BlackBook, and O'Reilly's Make--in the form of Evernote files that can be viewed alongside a user's own Evernote notes. Libin explained it as a chance for users to "supplement professional content with [a user's] own thoughts and memories."

The new branded notebooks directory
The new branded notebooks directory in action. Users can download these third-party notebooks into their own Evernote collection. Evernote

Besides the new Trunk feature and branded notebooks, Libin unveiled a new way for groups to work together. Evernote will now be able to collage shared items together into one folder so that users in different locations have the most up-to-date version. Libin explained it as one of the next steps in making Evernote friendlier for business and education users.

In the future, Libin says semantic analysis tools, templates, educational tools, and even games will make their way to the Trunk directory, as well as tighter integration with outside social networks. "The Trunk is a bridge to the social Web," Libin said.

The Trunk
Evernote on Wednesday unveiled "The Trunk," a directory of third-party sites and a set of tools that can be integrated for added functionality.

Evernote says it's now up to 3.7 million users since launching in June of 2008. In that time, its users have saved 145 million notes, which Libin said works out to 312 new ones every minute. While the service is free, it does have a premium subscription that costs $5 a month. Libin says that more than 80,000 of its users are currently premium subscribers--a number that has grown every month for the past two years.

According to Libin, there's also been tremendous growth in the number of iPad users, which jumped from 9 percent of mobile users to 18 percent in just one month. He also said that Google's Android platform has made considerable gains in its march to reaching 14 percent of mobile users, and as a result it's requiring more of an investment. "We've more than doubled our Android team, and will be extending our efforts there dramatically," Libin said. "We think over the next year, that the iOS and Android are the two main competitors."

Evernote is currently available on 12 different platforms, and in 16 different languages. Of that, Windows users still dominate on the desktop side at 50 percent of total users, followed at 37 percent by Mac users. On the mobile side, iPhone and iPod Touch users account for the majority share at a combined 62 percent of total users.

Related: The Real Deal 209: Evernote (podcast)