Why Evernote is better than Pinterest (but it’s REALLY not helping itself)

Following on from a conversation with friends at the pub last night it occurs to me that there are people out there who don’t know what Pinterest is. I spend a lot of time trapped in the social media/curation bubble so it can be hard to get a sense of perspective, especially when one particular platform goes supernova and you’re suddenly inundated with articles like “How Pinterest is affecting the way the world does x” or “Why you should care about Pinterest” or “10 things you can learn from Pinterest”.

Pinterest is an online pinboard service. The best way I can think of describing it is that it’s an online way of ripping your favourite pictures out of magazines/websites and putting them into a scrapbook.

my Dogs In The Snow pinboard

As it goes I was a relatively early adopter, signing up when only a handful of people were involved and when the only way to join was to use Facebook Connect (maybe a year ago). You can always tell when I’m excited about something by the fact that it makes Facebook Connect mandatory and I still sign up.

At that point I wasn’t sure whether it was going to catch on. (As an aside, I still don’t actually see how it’s going to become profitable.) But I’d been looking for the service it provided  for ages, even going so far as to suggest creating something similar myself but then immediately hitting the brick wall of no programming knowledge and no financing ability whatsoever. Until the point I started using Pinterest I was on Evernote (since 2009) which is a similar service except it calls the snippets it takes “clips” instead of “pins” and it has the ability to grab things other than images making it really useful for more in-depth research projects like university dissertations.

I once tweeted that “Evernote not getting its shit together is why Pinterest is doing so well.” To an extent I think that might still be true – Evernote is a bigger and more involved product with the capacity to do so much more stuff but I feel like it hasn’t been innovating loudly and can be really difficult to get to grips with. Maybe the folks there would feel like it was a cheap tactic to do so but with the rise of Tumblr, surely creating some sample Evernote notebooks (their version of pinboards) stuffed full of animated GIFS would have been a way of getting attention? Or just creating some incredibly well curated image collections – blue ice glaciers, NASA solar flare images – and feeding those out to the Twittersphere? Or perhaps some aggregated current affairs content notebooks combining news reports, pictures, video and so on? I’ve looked at the Evernote Noteworthy Blog and there are some really interesting ideas but as a consumer, I’ve not seen any of them being talked about or taken up by my social circles. I’ve literally only seen them on the Evernote platform.

And so you have Pinterest, which is much more focussed and therefore easier to get to grips with. See a picture. Grab that picture. It’s as simple as that. It’s like they took the most immediately appealing element of Evernote and ran with it – and to be fair to them it’s a strategy which really worked. But again, I don’t see how it can be a sustainable business because I can’t see how it can be profitable unless they introduce arbitrary caps or ads which are then removed upon paid subscription or possibly a paid app.

The bottom line here is that Pinterest is a great service, well produced and easy to use. But in terms of capabilities its very much the Photoshop Elements to Evernote’s CS5. Evernote, however, don’t seem to have mastered the art of prettying things up and making them out-of-the-box intuitive and I think this is what will really hurt them.

Do any of you use either service? I’d love to know what you think works or doesn’t work on each!

P.S. You can find me on Pinterest with the username philippawarr