Evernote Blazes the Trail for Multi-Platform Mobile Apps

January 5, 2016 - 3 minutes read

Mobile may be the future, but finding a balance between platforms still evades many startups looking for the right home for their product or service. In an industry well-known for high stakes and fast pivots, Evernote has been a surprise success story that many entrepreneurs wish they could emulate; a seemingly simple service making the jump from desktop to mobile with few roadblocks along the way.

Evernote vice president of mobile products Jamie Hull recently sat down with mobile app development experts at VentureBeat to discuss their experience building out their product for a dizzying aray of mobile platforms. While the company has certainly seen some discouraging left turns on the road to riches (see the recent Skitch shutdown and lackluster performance of dedicated subject-area Evernote apps), the company provides a fascinating case study for the strategies that seperate successfull corporations from short-lived startups.

Key to Evernote’s success, says Hull, is meeting their users where they are. That means building across multiple platforms — Evernotes was among the first apps to reach the Apple Watch and Google Glass, among other cutting-edge platforms — ensuring that users are never seperated from their notes.

While startup culture often preeches the “fail fast, pivot faster” methodology to determining marketplace viability for mobile app products, Evernote goes to show the gains that can be made by following a more methodical, less risky strategy. If you’ve built a dedicated userbase over a year or more, changes to UI and functionality come with significantly more risk. (Chicago iPhone app developers will recall Twitter’s stars-to-hearts fiasco for an example of how that can backfire. ) Evernote’s staggered UI changes and use of seperate branded apps to experiment with alternative use cases go to show how mobile app developers with the resources to experiment can do so without radically altering existing app features.

While Evernote’s push into the wearable scene might strike some experienced iPhone app developers as unexpected, Hull suggests that the move is more about augmentation than expantion. “The app that you build for the Apple Watch or Android Wear needs to be a window back to your phone. It shouldn’t duplicate, but enhance.”

While Evernote’s strategy requires more resources than might be available to a new startup, mobile app developers stand to learn from their approach to long-term mobile strategy. For startups that successfully monetize and scale, the way to user’s hearts is through building a service they can rely on — regardless of platform.

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