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The Tale of Two Notebooks, and Yes, It’s All About Earning a Buck

One down, one running better than ever.  Thanks to the irony of TechMeme, the two news are juxtaposed almost side by side:

I’ve never considered these two Notebooks comparable, despite the common name.  Google’s one was your web-based post-it notes, barebones, easy to use.   Zoho’s version is a full-featured multimedia application to create, aggregate, share, collaborate on just about any type of content easily, be it text, database, spreadsheet, image, drawings, audio, video – you name it.  It offers a lot more, but may be “too much” if all you want is the yellow stickies.  The two apps serve entirely different needs. But I don’t want to focus on the products here, did it before: Not All Notebooks Are Created Equal.

Let’s talk about the economics: Google is simply ditching some of the money losers which is clearly the right strategy in a recession when it saw it’s primary revenue source, advertising drop radically.  A while ago (before the economy collapsed) Zoho CEO Sridhar Vembu provided great insight into why getting into applications does not make much financial sense for Google, whereas it is Zoho’s primary business.  Today we’re seeing that logic in action.

Of course  Google is not the only one, we’re seeing startups shut down service, or give up the free-for-all principle and start charging for their services.  Over at CloudAve we’ve discussed Jott as an example, but there are many others.   We may have enjoyed all these free services, but deep down had to predict this bonanza would not last forever. It’s time for rationalizing business – after all, it’s all about making a buck.

Update (1/20/09):  Surprise, surprise! (not really).  Zoho came out with a tool to import your Google Notebook data into Zoho Notebook.

Update (1/22/09) Two days later here comes Evernote with an import process.  Who’s next?

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Startups: Growth or Revenue First? The Case of Twitter and Yammer

The New York Times presents the perfect showcase for what I’ve been preaching in my recession / business models mini-series:

  • turn to businesses
  • stop poking around, create a valuable service
  • charge for it (yes, revenue is not a crime)

The showcase compares Twitter vs. Yammer and their categorically different approaches to business.

Twitter is the leading micro-blogging service – they have a strong brand with zero revenue.

Yammer , riding on Twitter’s coattails has followed the exact opposite model: focus on revenues from Day One.

Is one model better then the other?  Are they both sustainable, especially in a downturn?

Read more here