Three Business Apps I Can’t Live Without


The word I use to describe Evernote is ubiquitous: it makes it easy to create and view notes from almost any device, with clients for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and the Web. Evernote does such a great job of syncing your notes that you almost forget that they are stored in the cloud. With an intuitive user interface and features such as tagging it is very easy to keep your notes organized. Advanced features such as PDF viewing are impressive. Evernote is free, but to get offline access to your notes a subscription is required. This has never been a problem for me with 3G access from my iPhone. (4/20/2012: Upgraded to Evernote Premium. See my update at the end of this posting.)


Whether or not you follow the Getting Things Done approach to task management, Toodledo can help you keep track of all your tasks, both business and personal. Contexts (ie: Personal, Work) and Categories help organize your tasks into the right buckets. While Toodledo’s mobile apps are not free, I think they are definitely worth the asking price. The iOS version is a Universal app so you only have to buy it once for your iPhone and iPad. All versions, web and app, do a great job of filtering your tasks by almost any criteria, including starred tasks, category, context, recently completed, due date, etc. and all your tasks are kept in sync with the cloud. I’ve been using digital task managers going back to the Palm III, so I’m very choosy, and to me this is the best one yet.
Traveler Ultra-Light Guitar


Lately I’ve found success reaching goals by using the Jerry Seinfeld Productivity Method, where you take a calendar and mark off a red X for every day that you work on your goal. You keep the chain of X marks going as long as you can and whatever you do, “Don’t break the chain.” Streaks has a great implementation of this in app format, and I’ve been able to achieve multiple goals, from learning and working on Customer Development to practicing guitar every day. My streak for playing guitar, a true stress reducer, is officially 365 days and counting without interruption as of last week, so I really think this app is a winner. Having a Traveler Guitar (which I also can’t live without) definitely helped. What goal do you want to work at daily? With this app you just might do it every day for the foreseeable future and reap untold benefits, or just have fun and relax.

4/20/2012 Update:

I broke out the credit card and upgraded to Evernote Premium today.  I find it indispensable the more I use it.  The note history, offline access and PDF search features are too good to pass up and $45 a year is very reasonable.  I also should mention that I already have a Pro subscription to Toodledo.  Here’s a link to a great article on Evernote from  Looks like I’m not alone in singing their praises.

We Need an App

If you are a regular user of a tablet computer then you may already be convinced that mobile is the future. The convenience, power and relatively low cost of mobile devices versus traditional laptop computing put us on the path where smartphones and tablets consume more of our time and dollars for our benefit. Throw into the discussion the record-breaking quarterly revenue reported by Apple last week ($46.33 billion) and you may decide that, for your department or organization, “We need an App.”

Perhaps you worry that you are missing out on an exciting technology trend, almost as bad as not having a web site. There are many ways an app can empower your team, but you want to come up with a clear statement on what your app will help you accomplish. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Promote your business

You have found a great way to promote your products via a free app. Some examples:

  • An interactive catalog of your products. This sounds simple enough, but Sony Music Entertainment takes this to a new level with “Jimi Hendrix: The Complete Experience.” This app provides entertaining content on the guitar legend, including music and photos, while promoting songs available for purchase on iTunes. Think of what this could do for a medical device catalog.
  • A utility app that is useful and highlights your business. Examples include the Winchester Ballistics Calculator, and the Bloomberg app for news and stock quotes. Both target very different audiences, but give each a reason to keep coming back.
  • A novelty app that is fun and promotes your products. The Virtual Zippo Lighter app shows off these collectibles and is a must-have for your next Rush or Justin Bieber concert. Download it and you’ll see why it’s a keeper.

Just like a web site it is important that your app is sticky and gives users a reason to return. You are using the app to build a customer relationship. Make sure that it is useful, interesting and promotes your brand without being too in-your-face about it.

Make money, save money, or solve a problem

Have you found a problem to solve for your customers that they are willing to pay for, or that you can include as a value-add for an existing product?

Do you have a way to save money by streamline internal operations? If you have a paper-intensive operation and you are looking to go paperless, a tablet can be the answer.

The possibilities are endless, just as they were with the advent of the PC and the World Wide Web. The key is to listen to your customers, both internal and external. Find out what their pain points are. Think about what hurdles you will have to overcome: if wireless connectivity is limited, local storage and syncing to your corporate systems may need to be built in. Focus groups or a customer site tour can be very helpful. Consider using Customer Development. An idea for an app can come to light any time you talk to customers. This is why you don’t want to outsource customer service.

Print money (i.e. get rich)

Hearing the siren call of the app gold rush, you think you have the killer app idea that will make you a fortune. No matter how good your idea is, marketing will be critical. The app market has pushed down pricing to the point where some users complain about paying $2.99 for an indispensable app while sipping a disposable $3.00 latte. You need to examine the app market, your potential competitors and determine what customers are willing to pay for your solution. There is a great deal of competition for customer attention in any major app marketplace. Getting rich from your app is the extreme exception, despite what you see in the media. If you have a great idea for something that people will pay for and you market it properly you still have a chance at success. Just don’t think it will be easy.

Further Reading

Rather than repeat them here, take a look at the questions listed in my previous article on marketing and Customer Development. Answer all of them. Just because you build it doesn’t mean people will download it, even if it is free.

The Business of iPhone and iPad App Develoment provides great suggestions on how to come up with app ideas and useful strategies for marketing your app. I think you will find it helpful no matter what mobile platform you choose.

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