Evernote Goes East With A Standalone Chinese Service: ‘Yinxiang Biji’

Evernote, the company that makes software to help people take personal notes and archive information about their daily lives, today debuted a new standalone version of its service specifically for the Chinese market called Yinxiang Biji (印象笔记.) In English the name translates to “Memory Notes” or “Impression Notes,” according to Evernote.

In a blog post announcing Yinxiang Biji, Evernote CEO Phil Libin explained the strategy of putting forth a standalone site like this:

“Our user base in China is growing quickly; with over a million users, it’s already our third largest country and at the current rate it’ll soon top Japan to move into second place. We’re really pleased with this, but, frankly, using Evernote in China hasn’t been a great experience.

The most common request we get from our Chinese users is to make Evernote faster, more reliable and better integrated with the rest of the Chinese Internet. Due to poor network connectivity between the US and China, there’s only one way to definitively fix the problem: have a separate service in China.”

The separation between Evernote and Yinxiang Biji runs deep — all the way to the server level. “Evernote and Yinxiang Biji are completely separate services with no connection to one another,” Libin wrote in the blog post. “Evernote data will not be stored on Yinxiang Biji servers, and vice-versa.”

Just last week Evernote closed on a $70 million round of new funding valuing the company at some $1 billion. CBC Capital of China was an investor in this latest round, so it seems that relationship has informed the uniqueness/boldness of this move.

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out for Evernote, and also how many others follow its lead. It’s been notoriously difficult for web companies to launch in China, even after they have built strong businesses in the US and elsewhere. Perhaps Evernote’s strategy of investing extra time and money into tackling the market with a standalone entity — built from the ground-up specifically for China — will be the key to success.