Evernote’s Test of Free Plan Limited to 50 Notes Raises Concerns

After making significant cuts to personnel earlier this year, Evernote’s Milan-based owner Bending Spoons is now trialing a new plan that would steer more users towards paid versions of its service. The company has confirmed to TechCrunch that it has been conducting a small test limiting the number of notes free users can create; however, the new plan is not yet finalized.

One Evernote user was alerted to the test when they encountered a pop-up message upon logging in, informing them that unless they upgraded to a paid plan, they would be restricted to only 1 notebook and 50 notes. This change would significantly limit the service for long-term Evernote users with hundreds or thousands of notes.

Image Credits: Evernote

Surprisingly, the pricing plans page on the Evernote website did not indicate any such limit on free plans. This made the pricing adjustment appear as a hidden fee change that Evernote did not want to publicize. The website only mentioned limitations such as 60 MB of monthly uploads or 25 MB maximum note size for free users. The personal and professional plans, currently discounted to $10.83 per month and $14.17 per month, respectively, offer support for larger notes and uploads, as well as syncing to unlimited devices.

Evernote stated that its website had not been updated with the new information as the change is not yet final. The company confirmed that it’s been testing the new plan with less than 1% of its free users to determine whether to implement the change. If implemented, the company plans to communicate the changes across “relevant customer touchpoints.”

However, the limit would not prevent free users from managing, editing, viewing, exporting, or deleting their existing notes, even if they exceed the limit. It would only restrict their ability to create new notes unless they upgrade to a paid plan.

This change would significantly impact long-term Evernote users who use the app on a single device for lightweight note-taking purposes. In essence, it would compel the majority of Evernote’s regular free users to become paying customers or stop using the app altogether.

If implemented, the change could potentially drive more users towards competing products such as Microsoft OneNote, starting at $6.99 per month with up to 1TB of cloud storage syncing up to five devices — better than Evernote’s Personal plan. Alternatively, it could lead users to try out Notion, a collaborative notes organizer that offers a free plan for individual users.

Evernote, once valued at nearly a billion dollars, had been facing challenges for years before its acquisition by Bending Spoons. The company experienced top executive turnovers and had attempted unsuccessful expansions into physical goods via partnerships with Moleskine and Pfeiffer. Evernote also had to lay off 15% of its workforce in 2018. After being acquired, the company managed to generate $100 million in recurring revenue, but it continued to struggle in the face of newer competitors like Notion.

Bending Spoons, which owns video editor Splice, photo editor Remini, and other apps, acquired Evernote in late 2022 and promptly laid off 129 staffers, citing long-term unprofitability. If these new changes are implemented, it could further impact Evernote’s ability to offer a free plan.

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