So today we learn that Evernote is starting a stand-alone Chinese incarnation. More info here.
This is packaged as a way to deliver a faster experience to the Chinese user. The “great Chinese firewall” by any other name. CEO Phil Libin:
The most common request we get from our Chinese users is to make Evernote faster, more reliable and better integrated with the rest of the Chinese Internet. Due to poor network connectivity between the US and China, there’s only one way to definitively fix the problem: have a separate service in China. That’s what we built.
This is a smart move for many reasons:
They are actively preempting the likely scenario of a Chinese clone.
Using a separate brand will protect the existing brand from the usual concerns about cosying up to the Chinese government and their potentially problematic interpretation of data privacy.
Even more importantly this is an important part of the growth strategy of a “new style” software company. In the olden days (think Microsoft or, if you can remember that far back, Lotus) all the creative energy of the company went into developing more and more features for your product to make it richer for the sophisticated buyer. For a product like Evernote this is not an option, however. They may have maxed out on features already. So the primary options available for growth are platform (think Dropbox) and/or entering adjacent markets. And this is one hell of an adjacent market.