2200 reasons to avoid Plaxo 3.0 today...

The new Plaxo 3.0 was released for preview today. Scoble is gushing. He really wants to love it. Congrats to him for being the first to put the release into the blogosphere. I appreciate even more that he expressed a bit of concern over it's first day response times. I wish I had read more closely and thought about it a bit harder... instead, I tried to upgrade and synch with the new version...

I wish I had waited. I'll tell you what has got me excited about the new 3.0 and looking forward to the day I can safely upgrade. Plaxo 3.0 goes beyond syncing with Oulook. It (purportedly) will allow you to sync contacts and calendar with GMail, Yahoo Mail, AOL, MSN mail, Thunderbird, and more. The problem is that it actually timed out during the initial sync, causing me to panic and ask it to revert me to Plaxo Classic (their term.) In response to my request, I got the error message above. I have a sick feeling about this...

Let me start again, this time by saying, I am not one of those people that say Plaxo was once popular, but fell off because of spam, etc, etc. I am a person who uses Plaxo every day and have done so for a couple of years or thereabouts. I have successfully used Plaxo to keep two computers, a Palm PDA and a Blackberry in flawless synch. I woudl regard myself as something of a power user of Plaxo as I have an address book with now over 2260 contacts in it and a fairly complex calendar. Although I no longer carry a Palm, and I am currently back to synching with just one computer, I have found Plaxo to be a real boon to my personal productivity. I make a point for example, when establishing a new business relationship, to send my contact info via Plaxo to new clients. I also make a point of asking them to update their information to me via Plaxo. I never do this in bulk, but I always ask after establishing an initial and credible contact with the new person. I find that a majority of them key the data into Plaxo and get me updated right away. Since I have already rewarded them with a quick, easy to use, and attractive link with all of my data attached and ready for import into their contact manager, I think I might be doing them the favor of sticking myself in their address book without them having to key in my info. Like I said, if you establish a credible link in advance, Plaxo's system of exchanging contact info is quick and easy and spam-free. If you click the bulk emailer, your contacts are likely not to reply as they feel like they are bing beat up by yet another anonymous bot attempting to collect their contact information for the sole purpose of beating them up with more useless information later.

What I like about Plaxo 3.0

  • Plaxo 3.0 synchs with Google and that is yummy. (FYI -- Calendar Synch is working. Contact Synch is coming soon.) So far, nothing else synchs with my Google address or calendar. Finally!

  • Plaxo synchs with Yahoo and I might even use that!

  • Plaxo synchs with the Mac and I think there may be one of those in my very near future.

What I don't like about the new Plaxo 3.0

  • It's ugly. While most online software is getting better looking every day, the new Plaxo screen is a step backwards. The new screen is cluttered and clumsy looking. It's almost as though they took a look at MySpace and Yahoo and picked some of the clunkiest design elements of each. The screen looks unfinished, although populated by stuff I couldn't care less about. Has no one figured out that I already receive the weather in about a thousand other places? Why should I give up yet more screen real estate to a thing I can do nothing about?

  • It doesn't quite work, yet. Users are not just complaining the system is slow, it simply doesn't work in some places. In my particular case, the system errored out and my reovery path took me to the message above. Quite frankly, I don't know at this moment whether Plaxo works on my computer or not. It's quite possible that I am at least temporarily disconnected from my online Plaxo contacts.

Why I will be upgrading to Plaxo 3.0 -- even if it doesn't happen today.

  • Plaxo is a power tool for the social networker. It brings order and automation to the more tedious parts of social networking. It provides a mechanism for sending electronic business cards in an easily digested format and will even automatically update those who take the initiative to synchronize the Plaxo address book with their other address books. It's a power tool for the power networker.

Watch the Plaxo update video:

ps: I have 2260 contacts in my Outlook address book, thus the title of this post.

UPDATE: I can see my Plaxo contacts in the old Plaxo, which is asking the question...

Not today...

About Phil Yanov

Phil Yanov is a Technologist, Columnist and Public Radio Commentator.

He is the founder of Tech After Five as well as the founder and President of the GSA Technology Council and the IT Leadership Council.

His personal technology column appears in Greenville Business Magazine and the Columbia Business Journal.

He co-hosts the Your Day technology shows heard on NPR radio stations across South Carolina and is a frequent contributor to technology stories appearing on radio and television.