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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Developing World Gets Unlimited Digital Storage

You may have thought it was just everyone you knew. In fact, at least one company is hoping that about 200 million more people worldwide are leading digitally swamped lives, in need of organizing.

On Tuesday Telefonica Digital, the London-based international business division of the Spanish telecommunications company, announced a global partnership with Evernote, an online archive for things like notes, photos, Web pages, and digitized voice recordings. In Brazil, where the business is starting, Evernote Premium accounts normally costing $45 a year will be free to customers of Telefonica’s local mobile brand, Vivo.

Twenty-two other countries, in both South America and Europe, are expected to get the deal in the near future. Telefonica has 247 million mobile customers, but won’t be offering the same package in Germany because of contractual conflicts.

“We’re trying to build long term relationships with users all over the world,” said Phil Libin, Evernote’s chief executive. “We are good with technophiles in most countries; Telefonica has a much bigger audience.” Evernote already has 2 million users in Brazil, he said, but this agreement was a way to accelerate growth.

It might seem that digital overload â€" or at least the way people store stuff â€" would differ from one country to another, but Mr. Libin said his product was generally used the same way everywhere. “We’re all knowledge professionals now, educated, mobile, professional people,” he said. “The thing people have in common everywhere is that they have too much information.”

What remains to be seen is whether a $45 value in the United States, where Evernote still has 30 percent of its 66 million customers, is worth it to people in the less-developed countries that Telefonica serves.

According to the company, the longer people use the service, the more likely they are to upgrade to the Premium offering. Sixty-five percent of people who initially sign up don’t really use Evernote. Of those who stay, initially only one percent pay for Premium, which offers additional storage and the ability to search for documents, among other things. After three years, however, 22 percent of customers are paying.

Wayne Thorsen, vice president of global products at Telefonica, argued that it may seem like an even better deal in Brazil. Telefonica has more than 80 million subscribers in Brazil, he said, “and for many of them this connectivity is all they have. Forty percent of them don’t have a financial relationship outside of their mobile phone provider.”

On the other hand, people without access to banking or credit cards might have other priorities than storing their photos online. Many of them may also move over to Evernote’s basic account, which is free.

“We’re looking to have a long term relationship with the customers,” Mr. Libin said. “We want to be their lifetime external brain.”