After news of the alleged Google Evernote challenger was leaked into the world by a sharp eyed geek who spotted some code in another Google service, the Big G has released Keep into the wild. Along with other commentators I believe that Keep is too little too late.
Google had the opportunity to strengthen its position in this market years ago but in 2009 killed off its lean, mean Notebook clipping service. I remember at the time thinking this was a major mistake and so it has proved. Now Google, which so often leads the way, is playing catch up.
Evernote, Pocket, Springpad
In the meantime Evernote has, rightly, grown to be the major player in its field with a finely focused service that is fit to operate at corporate level, but it is not the only service in the notebook and clipping sector. Pocket and Springpad spring to mind, if you will excuse the pun, as other packages that are far more mature and fully featured when compared to Keep.
As you would expect from Google, the Keep interface is very Zen minimalist which wrongly makes it look featureless compared to Evernote. There is a lot of power behind Keep and you can be sure that Google will throw a lot of resources at developing it further but I still cannot help but think we have witnessed a premature birth and Keep’s launch has been a bit of a knee jerk reaction. There’s no Chrome extension, no menu bar button …
It is not the lack of features in Keep that concerns me because, as I have stated above, Google will throw resources at it to develop it further. What does concern me is that a company the size of Google is continuing making some bizarre decisions in pushing almost beta level services out into the open.
It’s not the first time that the brains inside the Googleplex has shown dubious decision making skills, just witness the introduction of Buzz and Google+ and other services being available to US residents and not the rest of the world. At the moment Keep is available on the Windows desktop and on Android devices, there’s no menu button bar and no integration into the rest of the Google services so it is difficult to imagine how quickly and how far down links to Keep will be drilled.
The Internet news feeds have been alive with Keep being bandied about as a challenger to Evernote but I cannot see it. For one thing Evernote has a large, established and loyal user base ranging from single, individual users to major corporations which is committed to the service.
Unless Google introduces a system whereby Evernote data can be migrated to Keep then I cannot see a groundswell of subscribers jumping ship. Also, I cannot see Phil Libin and his team losing any sleep at this stage but it might just be possible that the Google developers will pull a rabbit out of the hat somewhere down the line that changes everything. For me, I cannot see Keep becoming my de fact e-Memory, but I shall keep an eye on it.