Evernote Takes on China With Apple's Singular IPhone Approach

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Phil Libin, chief executive officer of Evernote Corp.. Close

Phil Libin, chief executive officer of Evernote Corp..

Close
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Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Phil Libin, chief executive officer of Evernote Corp..

Evernote's elephant doesn't have to morph into a dragon to win in the Middle Kingdom.

Chief Executive Officer Phil Libin says he took a page from Apple's iPhone playbook and “happily ignored” all of the advice he got about needing to make a product that was customized and localized with different interfaces for China.

“Apple's been doing it for a long time,” Libin said in an interview in Beijing. “We just followed Apple's example. Their stuff in China is no different than it is anywhere else in the world and people line up to buy it just like they do everywhere.”

Evernote has a gray elephant head on a green background representing its function of helping users remember things by storing documents, images and other content in remote data centers. The data is made accessible from mobile devices including smartphones and tablet computers.

“If you have to customize your product heavily, you just haven't made it good enough,” Libin says. “If it was good enough, it would be its own style, and everyone would like it. The top brands are popular the world over.”

The strategy has paid off for Evernote in China, which will overtake Japan as Evernote's largest user base outside the U.S. in the next few months, Libin says. There are four million Evernote users in China and five million in Japan. The company's China service, which started a year ago, is adding more than 10,000 users daily, accounting for more than 10 percent of global user growth.

“Tastes are really the same here,” Libin said. “If you can make a product good enough, everyone in the world likes it and it works in China just like it works in Japan just like it works in Zurich just like it works in California.”

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Edmond Lococo in Beijing at elococo@bloomberg.net

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