Why Office 365 is a better value than Evernote Premium

Evernote is hosting its third annual Evernote Conference—aptly dubbed “EC3”—in San Francisco this week. Evernote introduced a variety of partnerships and new features yesterday, many of which are very cool, but what you get with an Evernote Premium subscription doesn’t offer nearly as much bang for the buck as an Office 365 subscription.

At face value, those two things don’t go together. It seems like saying that a McDonald’s cheeseburger isn’t as good a value as a Schwinn bicycle. However, Office 365 includes Evernote’s biggest rival—OneNote—along with an array of other products and features that Evernote doesn’t offer.

Evernote is awesome, but $45 for Evernote Premium is a bit much for what you get.

An Office 365 Home Premium account costs about twice as much as Evernote Premium—$100 per year vs. $45 per year (or $5 per month)—but what you get for the money is far more than twice the value. Many of the additional features Evernote Premium gets you access to are available for free with OneNote, plus Office 365 buys you the complete Office 2013 Pro suite with licenses for up to five separate individuals or devices.

A business can subscribe to Office 365 Small Business Premium for $150 per year per user—roughly three times the cost of Evernote Premium. For that money, though, the user is licensed to install the entire Office 2013 Pro suite on up to five different devices, and the business also gets Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync delivered as managed services maintained by Microsoft. Both Office 365 subscriptions also include the ability to unlock and use Office Mobile for iOS or Android.

It’s not a purely apples to apples comparison. We’re talking about a single product versus a complete suite of products and services that also happens to include a similar single product.

Both Evernote and OneNote are exceptionally capable note-taking apps. They continue to challenge and leapfrog each other, and I find myself switching back and forth on occasion. When I compared them head-to-head earlier this year, it was a very close race, but Evernote edged out OneNote to take the crown.

A few months later, Evernote raised the bar again with new features, and Microsoft has responded with updates to OneNote. The competition between the two products is the sort of noble rivalry that makes both better and results in better products and choices for businesses and consumers.

Evernote has built an entire ecosystem, and it is almost a culture unto itself. At EC3 this week, Evernote expanded its partnership with Moleskine journals and announced a relationship with 3M to provide Evernote-enabled Post-It notes. The company even went so far as to offer socks and backpacks.

Those are the kinds of things that really set Evernote apart from OneNote, but we still can’t ignore the fact that the primary purpose of Evernote is the same as OneNote, and that most people will stick to those core note-taking functions. In addition, although Evernote itself is free, many of the better features require an Evernote Premium subscription.

Evernote is great, and if you intend to take advantage of the vast Evernote ecosystem, that $45 is a decent investment—especially if you already own Office 2013, or use something else like Google Docs. But, if you’re working with a limited budget and trying to decide where to spend your money, an Office 365 subscription provides a much broader value for your dollar than Evernote Premium.

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