Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The world's most hated a loved reincarnation?

Trivia Question: Which of your friends' service did you hate the most?  Answer: Plaxo. Plaxo was that contact manager from hell.  If you subscribed to the service it pestered everyone you ever met until you wanted to scream.  Worse yet, if your friends subscribe it made you want to scream.  They got a well-earned, terribly bad reputation.  And now its back....only I think they've learned something.

Plaxo's new incarnation has a lot going for it.  It's positioning itself to be "an address book for life."  It wants to be the one place where all of your contact information, calendar, tasks and feeds come together, from a variety of services.

Plaxo brings together your your stuff from Outlook, Google, Yahoo, AOL/AIM, your mobile, Outlook Express, LinkedIn, Mac OSX, Hotmail & Windows Live.  For now, these are the "sync-points" supported by Plaxo.

After reading Scobles post, I thought I would take it for a spin.  After opening my free account I was taken to the screen above and asked which "sync points" I wanted to add.  plaxosyncpoints I thought I'd stat with Outlook and, when selected, asked me to download an add-on.  Normally I avoid Outlook add-ins like the plague, but I thought I'd try it out.  Once it was installed I had a new set of options from within Outlook


Next I selected "sync manager" and told Plaxo what I wanted synced from Outlook to the Plaxo cloud.  I entered my Plaxo account information and then selected my Outlook calendar, contacts, tasks and notes to be synced to Plaxo.

That was it.  I hit "sync now" and with in minutes all of my stuff was available to me on the web.


I was shocked.  I added a task to the left-hand task bar in the Plaxo window and it was brought to my Outlook to-do list at the next sync.  I added a couple of other sync points, my Google and Yahoo accounts just to see how it would work.  Those too synced up in a snap.

If you're interested, check out the below video from Plaxo's vice-president of marketing.

Now for the not so good news.

  1. The free version syncs up to 1000 contacts.  For more than that you need the Pro version, which will set you back $50/year.  The pro version also supports syncing with LinkedIn, a social networking app for the business community.
  2. Syncing isn't particularly fast.  This might be because the product is new and they're working through the scaling issues as lots of new people register.  I hope so.
  3. I'm not so thrilled with giving out my credentials to a third party.  More and more though, it's becoming a given for certain services.

Why is this interesting for folks in our line of work?

  1. We move around a lot and this makes it easy to keep all our contacts up to date.
  2. It allows me to change my task list and my calendar from any computer in the world, knowing that those changes will also appear in Outlook on my desktop.
  3. Its serves as an easy backup for my most important information: my contacts, my tasks and my calendar.
  4. It appears as though this would also allow you to sync multiple computers together effortlessly.   

I don't think I'll spend a lot of time on the Plaxo's website, but it is a very, very easy tool to use if you want to bring a lot of information together from a variety of sources.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

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