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Evernote Trunk Conference reveals Skitch acquisition, new Mac, iOS clients and more

I'm here at Evernote's first conference, a 1-day affair featuring news, a panel and several sessions for developers. This morning Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote, kicked off the conference with some stats on Evernote usage. While Evernote has been featured in Apple Stores and is highly recommended, they haven't really spent any money on ads or marketing. As a result, the usage and growth is quite extraordinary. Here at TUAW, we're all big fans of Evernote (it's even integrated into our iPhone app).

According to Libin, today Evernote can boast 12.5 million registered users. A year ago that number was 3.9 million. But how many regular users are there? Currently there are over 4 million "30 day active users" up 271% from last year. Even more incredible is that a year ago there were less than 100,000 paid users, and now there are over half a million. The incredible part, aside from outstanding growth, is that people are finding value in Evernote's premium offering even though the service puts very few restrictions on free accounts. As Libin said later, "It's more important that you stay than you pay." Imagine if Flickr said that. Another juicy data point: nearly 1/3 of all Evernote users are in Japan. Most are in the US, but the Japanese user base is a very close second.

evernote skitchThe bigger news, especially for longtime Mac users, is that Evernote has acquired Skitch and is making it free. There will be some integration on the Evernote side as well, although the details of that were not revealed. I'm hoping we see better annotations for images and perhaps support for some of the other goodies mentioned today. Either way, Evernote is very happy with the deal and aims to make Skitch a "household name with everyone that wants to draw, sketch, annotate, doodle, sign or highlight something." So, Skitch fans, don't worry.

Those "other goodies" involve the next release of Evernote clients and a more forward-looking features yet to be rolled out. Evernote considers the next release their "most requested features" release -- the features you'll see soon will be things Evernote fans have been begging for. One I can identify with: Rich text support. The next version of Evernote should support bold, italics and all the fun stuff you can do with rich text. Also useful will be a completely revamped iPad edition, with a better viewing experience which makes use of the entire iPad screen (like large thumbnails for notes). Plus, a feature which was curiously absent from iOS editions of Evernote will finally make a debut: Shared notebooks. This becomes a big deal when we consider the far-flung vision of Evernote.

But first, the Mac version will also be revamped for Lion. Fullscreen support will look a lot like the iPad version, with those large thumbnails. Also, the favorites bar up top can be customized with everything from notes to saved searches. You'll also finally be able to close the left-hand panel. Oh, and yes, there will be new extensions for Chrome and Firefox and Safari.

evernote ipadIn the medium-term timeframe, Evernote is aiming to boost the connectedness of your notes, taking data and pulling other data to make that stuff make sense. In a demo, we saw map integration with your notes in the form of a widget. These widgets will be developed through a couple of developer-centric events in the next couple of months, with the full catalog available to the public this December. By working with partners, Evernote is building a powerful platform that not only collects data, but pulls in live data and provides much more context for your notes. I can see a lot of amazing applications of this over time as even more widgets are developed. Any company who currently offers a shared notes solution would do well to keep an eye on what Evernote is building here, as it is just the beginning.

The longer view for Evernote is an interesting play. Libin revealed that he'd like Evernote to last at least 100 years. When you're talking about saving memories, that is indeed a noble goal. No one wants to lose their memories, and what happens to your notes over time? Libin and Evernote believe that the more you use their product, the more you'll like it, and the more likely you'll be to pay for the premium service. In fact, Evernote wants to be as ubiquitous in productivity as Zynga is with wasting time on Facebook. Here's to that!

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