37signals, One Suite

I’ve long been an admirer of 37signals. Today, Jason Fried announced the 37signals suite. The suite comprises 4 web apps: Basecamp, Highrise, Backpack, and Campfire. The last of these is for online chatting, the first three for managing, respectively, projects, contacts, and stuff.

There are three pricing options, starting at $99/month. It’ll be interesting to see how and if that changes. 37signals like to keep things simple, while some of their clients will have “but I want more of this and less of that with price more like that” comments.

It’s interesting to see that this is not a freemium offering. There is no $0 small-scale or trial version of the suite.

37signals is the best example I know of a firm with a strategy. By strategy, I mean propensity to respond to requests with: No, that’s not what we do. In particular:

  • 37s takes a hard line against feature creep. To make it into a product, a new feature has to add a lot more in terms of useful function than it does in terms of clutter.
  • 37s does not believe in losing money to gain clients. It has always priced for profit. There are $0 versions of the apps, but they are intended for trial, not for extended free-of-charge use.

In terms of my own use, I like the first of these things a lot more than I like the second. One of the reasons I stopped using Backpack was because my use outgrew the $0, but my inclination to pay didn’t. I do currently use Highrise.

What should 37s do next? Well, what I’d like them to do is a Learning Management System (LMS). A ruthlessly uncluttered LMS would allow focus on learning from the course, without wasting cycles navigating the LMS. But I don’t think that an LMS is on the 37s radar, and so I’ll keep on writing about other LMSs.

Calendar, Lists, etc.

Any recommendations for web-based calendar, to-do lists, etc.?

I’ve been keeping my calendar at Scrybe since November 2006. Not much has been heard from the Scrybe folks since November 2007. I don’t feel confident that the next release will include the enhancements to the PaperSync feature that I’ve been requesting for over a year now.

I’m inclined to switch to Google Calendar. My wife has just started using GMail, and so it’s easy to share a family (kid’s appointments, etc.) calendar with her via Google.

That leaves open the question of to-do lists. I’m currently using Todoist. Or rather, I’m not. It just doesn’t feel as right as Backpack lists. But the Backpack calendar isn’t included in the free plan.

I’m tempted by Remember The Milk. It has a cool name and logo, integration with Google, free plan including calendar and to-do lists, clean look,… but so, I think, do several other options… but none of them have a cow in the logo… but is that really an important criterion?

I fear that I am more interested in researching organization tools than in being organized.