Trust Isn't the Issue With Google's Keep

Evernote and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) can rest easy. By my tests, Google's (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) "Keep" archiving and productivity software isn't the threat that some might think it is.

To be fair, I tested an early (i.e., unfinished) version in a Chrome browser on a Mac, even though only Android handsets can access the features Google advertises in the promotional video below:


Source: Google.

A non-issue of trust
Most of the articles I've read dismissing Keep have less to do with functions, and more to do with trust. How we can possibly trust Google to support Keep, when Reader -- one of the search king's more popular tools -- will be unceremoniously kicked to the curb in July? Only a small-f fool would use a Google-branded productivity app knowing the rug could be pulled out at any time, skeptics say.

Maybe they're right, but they're also missing the point. The trouble with Keep isn't that it'll be orphaned as its predecessor -- Google Notebook -- was. The trouble with Keep is that it's underpowered in glaring ways. No clipping tools. Little structure, and no tagging. No design sense. All the things that make Evernote great are lacking in Keep.

In fact, there's so much missing, that I wonder why Google didn't ante up $2-3 billion to buy Evernote.

The huge and growing threat from Microsoft
We know Google needs Evernote -- or something like it -- in order to compete. Microsoft has a full suite of productivity apps in Office, and an online subscription-based product called Office 365. Google Apps lack archiving and task management. Keep seems to be designed to address both these needs, but in one product.

Interestingly, Keep comes at a time when a growing portion of the world is turning to suites of cloud-based software for business. Salesforce.com has enjoyed better than 30% revenue growth in each of the last two fiscal years. Peer NetSuite has enjoyed accelerating revenue growth since 2009.

For its part, the search king says there are now 40 million Apps users, and all signs point to continued growth in the years ahead. Microsoft could make the journey difficult with Office 365, and efforts to make Skype a de facto messaging and telephony platform for small business Office users.

Google needs Keep to help bulk up Apps, but it might need Evernote even more.

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