The Developing World Gets Unlimited Digital Storage; Telefornica announced a global partnership with Evernote, a digital archive for things like notes, photos and voice recordings.

AUGUST 13, 2013, 9:00 AM

The Developing World Gets Unlimited Digital Storage


You may have thought it was just everyone you knew. In fact, at least one company is hoping that about 200 million more people worldwide are leading digitally swamped lives, in need of organizing. On Tuesday Telefonica Digital, the London-based international business division of the Spanish telecommunications company, announced a global partnership with Evernote, an online archive for things like notes, photos, Web pages, and digitized voice recordings. In Brazil, where the business is starting, Evernote Premium accounts normally costing $45 a year will be free to customers of Telefonica’s local mobile brand, Vivo.Twenty-two other countries, in both South America and Europe, are expected to get the deal in the near future. Telefonica has 247 million mobile customers, but won’t be offering the same package in Germany because of contractual conflicts.

“We’re trying to build long term relationships with users all over the world,” said Phil Libin, Evernote’s chief executive. “We are good with technophiles in most countries; Telefonica has a much bigger audience.” Evernote already has 2 million users in Brazil, he said, but this agreement was a way to accelerate growth.

It might seem that digital overload — or at least the way people store stuff — would differ from one country to another, but Mr. Libin said his product was generally used the same way everywhere. “We’re all knowledge professionals now, educated, mobile, professional people,” he said. “The thing people have in common everywhere is that they have too much information.”

What remains to be seen is whether a $45 value in the United States, where Evernote still has 30 percent of its 66 million customers, is worth it to people in the less-developed countries that Telefonica serves.

According to the company, the longer people use the service, the more likely they are to upgrade to the Premium offering. Sixty-five percent of people who initially sign up don’t really use Evernote. Of those who stay, initially only one percent pay for Premium, which offers additional storage and the ability to search for documents, among other things. After three years, however, 22 percent of customers are paying.

Wayne Thorsen, vice president of global products at Telefonica, argued that it may seem like an even better deal in Brazil. Telefonica has more than 80 million subscribers in Brazil, he said, “and for many of them this connectivity is all they have. Forty percent of them don’t have a financial relationship outside of their mobile phone provider.”

On the other hand, people without access to banking or credit cards might have other priorities than storing their photos online. Many of them may also move over to Evernote’s basic account, which is free.

“We’re looking to have a long term relationship with the customers,” Mr. Libin said. “We want to be their lifetime external brain.”

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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