Not All Notebooks Are Created Equal

Whenever Zoho releases a new product, the “default” comparison is to relevant Google products.  Perhaps it’s because of this “reflex” that most  blogs  immediately   compare the newly released Zoho Notebook to Microsoft OneNote and Google Notebook.

I have a suggestion: let’s add 3M’s post-it notessmile_wink   Joke apart, Google Notebook is really an online yellow sticky, while Zoho’s Notebook 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.  The only thing the two “Notebooks” share is the name, otherwise they simply play in different leagues.  I tend to agree with Read/WriteWeb“Zoho Notebook offered different things than Microsoft OneNote and more things than Google Notebook.

You can clip content from the Web, or create your own, in a free-form, true drag-and-drop environment. Embed video, audio, RSS feed, or use special page types that load Zoho Writer, Sheet and other applications. 

The level of re real-time collaboration is a true breakthrough: you can share book-level, page-level or individual object-level information.  This means you can selectively collaborate with certain users on your text, while sharing the chart with yet another group, and hiding the rest.   Updates to any of these objects are reflected in the NoteBook real-time.  Integration with Skype allows Skype presence indicators in the individual shared object as well as direct IM-ing over Skype. Needless to say, version-control is taken care of at the object-level, too.

This is application is way too feature-rich to describe. Instead, watch this demo, then try it yourself.


NoteBook is unquestionably the sleekest of all Zoho apps, and a technological marvel.  There are clearly specific target demographics, like students, where an All-In-One notetaker is the killer app.  In a more typical business environment one might wonder where it fits in the range of products available, and what application to use when. Back in January when Notebook was “pre-released” at Demo, fellow Enterprise Irregular Dennis Howlett found specific use-cases for the accounting profession:

“I can see huge potential for this among those professionals who need to assemble audit and M&A resources for example. It makes the creation of a multi-disciplinary team very easy with the ongoing ability to collaborate as projects evolve while remaining in an organised, controllable environment.

I can see other use cases arising in forensic work, planning, budget management, time and expense management – the list goes on. In this sense, Zoho Notebook could become the de facto desktop for knowledge workers because you don’t need to leave the service to do pretty much all the tasks you’d expect a knowledge worker to undertake. I can also envisage some interesting mashups using accounting data from a saas player that gets pulled into Notebook on and ad hoc basis. Does this mean Notebook is a ’silver bullet’ application.

I’m going to stick my neck out and say a qualified ‘yes.”

Office 2.0 critics/sceptics often say these apps should go beyond offering web-based equivalents of existing PC applications. With Notebook Zoho clearly shows they don’t just take us to the “cloud”, they bring us true innovation. 

(Disclosure:  I’m an Advisor to Zoho and am obviously biased. Don’t take my words for anything I’ve just said – go ahead and try it yourself).

Update:  Robert Scoble has just posted his recent  video interview with  CEO Sridhar Vembu and Zoho Evangelist Raju Vegesna.




  1. Anonymous says

    I agree – Zoho’s Notebook goes so far beyond Google Notebook that comparisons are just plain silly. The number of ways they’ve integrated this with the other Zoho apps, Skype, and web-based content and data is pretty stunning. There are any number of use cases I’ve been able to demonstrate in education and business for these advanced capabilities. I think the real killer is the integration with Zoho Meeting for teaching, CBT training and support applications. And this is only the public beta!

  2. Anonymous says

    The only thing the two “Notebooks” share is the name, otherwise they simply play in different leagues.

    I guess if you don’t want your product compared to another product, better not use the same name then. 🙂


  1. […] 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 it 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. […]

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