Springpad Overhauls Web App, Aims to Be Your Personal Assistant and Mobile Life Manager

11/17/10Follow @gthuang

Today is a pretty important day for Jeff Janer and his startup. Charlestown, MA-based Spring Partners is releasing a new version of Springpad, its online notebook service for organizing all the information in your life. (And who doesn’t need that?) What’s more, it could be the make-or-break moment for the startup as it strives to differentiate itself from other consumer-focused digital filing systems on the Web—and get a lot more people using it.

“This is a very significant launch for us,” says Janer, Spring Partners’ co-founder and CEO. “We rebuilt our whole Web app.” And the company is looking to get much wider distribution through mobile app stores via Apple (iPad and iPhone), Google Android, and eventually Microsoft (Windows Phone 7).

My colleague Wade has reported extensively on Springpad, including this head-to-head comparison of Springpad vs. Evernote for online note-keeping, earlier this year. The basic idea behind the company is to help consumers store and organize all the interesting info they come across in daily life—whether it’s a bottle of wine at a restaurant, a movie or book worth checking out, or a hotel or attraction relevant to a future trip. Just save it with Springpad (which is free for consumers), and it’s there for you to come back to later.

Springpad emerged as a beta version in 2008, focused on a few niche areas like cooking and parenting. Back then, Janer called the service an “anti-Facebook: a place to focus not on your social network but on yourself and all the tasks and information you have to manage.” Subsequent releases made the process of saving lifestyle information to the Web interface simpler and more convenient. In the past few months, the company has added alert features that tell you when the price of something you want to buy drops, say, or a movie you’re interested in seeing comes out on DVD.

“It started out as a digital filing cabinet, and now it’s a personal assistant,” Janer says. Now it’s about “what if I want to work with my stuff and organize it,” he adds.

The key to Springpad is that it detects the kinds of information you save and structures them in a smart way, Janer says. That allows the software to pull in other relevant links and services from around the Web. It’s also the key to making money, through contextual advertising and affiliate marketing. In other words, while using Springpad you can book a restaurant reservation through OpenTable or buy movie tickets through Fandango, and Springpad gets a cut of the proceeds.

The Web application being released today (and built using HTML5) has some new organizational features too. There’s a new homepage for each user, which is customizable and can be … Next Page »

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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