- 7 May 09, 12:23 GMT
Suffering information overload? Trying to find that document, that website, that digital photo from way back when?
Well, there are now plenty of ways you can store that information online - sites like Flickr allow you to keep your photos, Delicious helps you tag and bookmark links, and Google Documents provides an online store for, well, documents.
I've just met the boss of a company that claims it can do all this and more. But will Evernote - and the memories it stores in the cloud - still be around in five years' time?
Phil Libin, the chief executive of Evernote, describes it as "an external brain for everyone". The idea behind the service is that you can store notes, audio recordings, web clippings or photos with Evernote - and they will be accessible on any computer or on a mobile phone. There is an Evernote application for Windows, for Mac and for the iPhone and the service is coming to other phones imminently.
What impressed me was the search capability, which includes a function allowing you to look for text in photos. Phil Libin showed me a search relating to a company he'd met at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Among the results was a photo taken on a stand featuring a man wearing a badge with both his and the company's name on it.
Evernote - which is based in Mountain View, right at the heart of Silicon Valley - launched in June last year, and has so far attracted about a million users worldwide.
There are two options - a free service or a $5-per-month premium subscription which allows you to upload far more "memories" each month, with greater functionality.
I'm always rather dubious about that kind of mix of free and premium (how many Spotify users upgrade to the paid service?), but Mr Libin says that growth in paying customers is now ahead of new free users, and he claims that the company is now on course to be profitable next year.
But Evernote is based just down the road from the one company that seems likely to crowd out a small start-up, Google. And I have to confess that after trying out Evernote earlier this year, I ended up reverting to using Google Documents - it lacked many of the bells and whistles of its new rival, but I wasn't sure that I needed them.
If my behaviour is at all typical, then Evernote may struggle to achieve the critical mass of users it needs. So the big worry for those who have signed up is that the company will be one of the many Silicon Valley start-ups that have a great idea, but don't make it.
Phil Libin is of course confident that his venture won't meet that fate - he says it's actually a great time to be starting a business because there is less "noise" around from other ventures - but he's keen to reassure users that their memories will survive, whatever happens to the company. That's because Evernote stores everything not just online, but locally on your computer - so even if its servers go offline one day, anything that you've synchronised to your PC will be safe.
We are putting more and more of our lives into the internet "cloud" - and that raises all sorts of issues about security and trust. Companies offering these cloud services will need to provide plenty of reassurance to their users over the coming years. But it's refreshing to see that, even in these dark times for investors in new technology, smart companies like Evernote are still being born in Silicon Valley.
By the way, I used another new service which stores data in the cloud, AudioBoo, to record an interview with Phil Libin. You can listen to it here, but just in case AudioBoo disappears from the cloud in five years' time, we've also uploaded it to the BBC's embedded player. After all, we hope that the BBC and all of its online services will still be around for the foreseeable future.
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