At the end of January, we reported on a new "preview product" called Zoho Notebook. Well tonight it has launched as a beta product. In the office software space nowadays, comparisons must be made not only to the equivalent Microsoft Office product - but also the equivalent Google Web Office product. Not forgetting of course the many smaller vendors of Web Office. In any case, when it came out in preview Zoho Notebook was immediately compared to Microsoft's OneNote application and Google Notebook. My own conclusion when trying out the product back then was that Zoho Notebook offered different things than Microsoft OneNote and more things than Google Notebook.
With Zoho Notebook, you can create many different types of content - such as text, image, audio, video, drawings, RSS feeds. It's also a content aggregator (including HTML content from web, Zoho Writer doc, Zoho Sheet spreadsheet etc) and has impressive collaboration features. While content aggregation and collaboration are almost mandatory these days in a Web Office product, it's the variety of content you can aggregate and collaborate over that is impressive in Zoho Notebook. Also the ability to mash it all up. Other features include permission settings at object level, versioning support to view/revert to any past version, and ability to add comments to pages or to individual objects. There is also a Firefox add-on for clipping web pages.
Check out this video demo:
Some example use cases, as we discussed last time, include students using it to compile research or enterprises using it as a project management tool. Right now, Zoho Notebook still feels like a beta (which I guess is why it is a beta), but the potential is there for an app that aggregates many different types of content from across the Web in a notebook style. Personally I am a bit of an old-school guy when it comes to note-taking, as I still carry around paper notebooks. But I will no doubt 'go digital' with notes one day, and Zoho Notebook or another similar web native app is likely to be what I use.
One final point. I know that many people who use Microsoft OneNote do so on a tablet, allowing them to scribble down (literally, in their own hand-writing) notes while on the move. I suspect Zoho Notebook also needs to tap into that 'mobility' use case.
Disclosure: Zoho is a R/WW sponsor.