The central concept behind Plaxo is that it is an extended version of your address book.
Yes that’s it. Well not quite but that’s how it all started.
Plaxo has drawn together some of the really great ideas behind some of Web 2.0’s stars such as Facebook, Flickr, Twitter etc. and tried to improve on some of the elements that the Plaxo creators thought could be done better. (Those ‘creators’ include Napster co-founder Sean Parker no less).
The Plaxo team began by maintaining several plug-ins allowing users to connect with their existing address books stored on Outlook, Outlook Express, Mozilla Thunderbird and MAC OS X’s address book and load them into Plaxo for easier management. So Plaxo was essentially hosting and maintaining address books for millions of people. Then in 2007 they announced their own social network to rival Facebook called Pulse. This meant that the contacts stored within Plaxo could now go ‘live’ to speak, your contacts were no long static information but friends on a social network (as long as those contacts joined you on Plaxo).
Pulse is essentially Facebook with a few interesting tweaks thrown in. Firstly there is its basis in your address book so you have current information on your contacts not just a name that pops up when you send a message. Secondly instead of your profile being limited to what you upload onto that social media network Pulse allows you to post onto your profile content you have uploaded onto other social media sites such as Twitter and Flickr to name just two. So you can see all the content your contacts are managing across the web, as long as they want you to. That is the real intended difference between Pulse and Facebook the control (Plaxo calls it the ‘fine grained control’) that you have over your content, you own it not your social media network.
The latest coup for Pulse and its 40 million users is its relationship with Facebook or to be more specific its new tool called ‘Facebook Connect’. This means that Plaxo will now be able to honour existing Facebook friendships so its users won’t have to re-add all their existing friends on a different social network. You can also now share your Facebook content and status updates with your friends on Plaxo as you could already do with Twitter and Flickr.
In its latest form Plaxo now acts as a dashboard that can maintain the content you produce on your social media accounts as well as still working hard at your address book, sounds pretty good as long as they can drag us away from Facebook.