Backpack, an Interesting Concept

Source Title:
Backpack Preview #3: Web 1.0 calling Web 2.0
Story Text:

Backpack is going to be big i think, if it lives up to it's promises it'll be damn useful, though at present i've few details fo offer other than the link...

Essentially we're talking about a glorified todo list, that you can operate via email, but you should read the post to get a fuller picture.

Backpack takes a fresh look at email. However, instead of just sending email to someone else’s email address, Backpack will receive an email and turn it into something useful on the web. This isn’t just about posting flat content to the web via email, it’s about turning flat emails into functional web pages.



That's a little scary. It's amazing how much personal stuff people put into emails. One slip up and everyone will get to see who is talking about who.

I'm looking forward to trying it.

I already use Basecamp and find that invaluable. These guys rock!

pricing changes without notice

be very careful tying your clients into anything from 37signals.

they dropped a 25%-100% price increase on the early adopters of basecamp earlier this year.

"you're upgrading, like it or not."

their idea of customer support is blowing you off.

this is rented software. you never own it and they change the rules whenever they feel like it.

would you trust microsoft well enough to lease core apps?

then why would you trust jason fried?

i would recommend that you don't.

speaking from personal experience.

scary thought?

the first thing that came to mind when i read ronsard's comment was - what if Google charged to search the web?

thinking about it more, i bet *some* people would pay for a super-quality search engine. will one of the SEs charge to search eventually?

i don't think we're at that point ... yet ... but i think it could happen in the future. people pay for niche content now in certain circumstances (lexis/nexis is one 'search engine' that comes to mind) - would they pay for an ultra quality search? will such a thing ever exist?


Truth be told, the only remotely interesting thing [from my pov] about Backpack is how intelligent their parser is about unstrictly put-together emails.


I got an account last weekend and posted about it on my blog (here)
As usual, Backpack has all the nice design touches and usability you'd expect from 37signals. It lets you post messages, lists, images, files and todos via web or email. The most interesting feature is that it will send an SMS message reminding you when a todo is coming due.

Nicely done, but I'm not sure it will be world-changing. Actually I don't think they'd want it to be - they're focusing on a pretty narrow market segment - independent designers/developers, small businesses, and entrepreneurs.

focusing on a pretty narrow market segment ...

... And idiots with more time & money than sense.

Paying a subscription for a backpack of functions that will soon be free to all is being ripped off - no "entrepeneur" would touch it - they, of all people, know you don't get rich by throwing money at gimmicks.

Maybe the company should be renamed 37noises ;o)


Backpack has just gone live btw, im going to see if i can find a little time to try it out later...

no detailed information on pricing

these guys are a slippery lot.

no proper information on what you get in each plan.

just sign up for free.

remember pricing with 37signals is arbitrary and subject to change at a whim.

as soon as they have enough people hooked expect to see subscription prices double.

moreover the xml export is a bit of a joke.

basecamp for example is based on web pages. in the XML export you only get messages and not to-do's. moreover to reuse the XML you'd have to hire a programmer to parse it usefully.

instead, the export should be into useable form - rtf's for each message with the date and title stamped into the message for example. or as the original webpages, navigable but no longer editable.

same thing for the to-do's.

get involved with 37signals and expect a hefty monthly bill which will only rise.

rented software is a bad model most of the time. $19/month (which became $24 with basecamp, or $59 which became $99) - is $228/year. that's a very nice productivity application that you will own in perpetuity.

remember 37signals idea of a one-year anniversary party is a 50% price increase.

It's the price of stupidity ...

They work on the basis that their customers are stupid - or charging it to the boss.

Good Luck to them; a nice scam that is perfectly legal - and perfectly transparent.

If they can develop one new 'boyztoy' per year, they'll be well ahead of cancellations, and laughing all the way to the bank.


Well, in the UK, we have, which works through either traditional payment, or 'credits' accruing by filling in surveys and other such junk. Its a great niche, truth be told, and while I wouldn't pay for it [because I'm cheap], when I need to look up a specific, you can bet I sit and generate credits.

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