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Evernote CEO acknowledges stability issues, says simpler design is coming

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Evernote iPad launch screen
Evernote iPad launch screen

Evernote's rapid expansion into new product categories over the past year may have left its core software wanting. Phil Libin, the company's founder and CEO, acknowledged several problems in a blog post today and says Evernote will spend 2014 improving the stability and simplicity of its core product.

Libin wrote in response to a blog post on Friday by former TechCrunch editor Jason Kincaid, who lamented problems with Evernote's stability, privacy protections, and customer support. Kincaid's post was widely read, generating spirited debates on Twitter and Hacker News. "I could quibble with the specifics, but reading Jason's article was a painful and frustrating experience because, in the big picture, he's right," Libin wrote. "We're going to fix this."

"We're going to fix this."

Libin says the company had already decided to spend this year bolstering the core app's stability while simplifying its design. The decision came in the wake of a poorly received redesign of its app for iOS 7. "We gained many new users, but rushing to completely rebuild the app for the new platform resulted in stability problems that disproportionally hit longer-term customers, including ourselves," Libin wrote. "Since all Evernote employees are power users by definition, no one is more motivated to make Evernote better just for the sake of our own productivity and sanity. I've never seen people happier to just fix bugs."

The company has made several improvements to Evernote's stability over the past few months, Libin says. Design is a challenge that will take longer to address. Libin says the company wants to simplify design in five areas: note-editing, navigation, search, sync, and collaboration. Evernote will never be the simplest alternative to note-taking — pen and paper still get the job done with ease. But for the 75 million-plus users who rely on Evernote to help them remember everything, Libin's words will be welcome news. And employees will welcome the news, too: "We’re the biggest Evernote users around," Libin says. "And it’s important to be in love with what you build."