Plaxo is part social media tool, part address book. It is useful for keeping contact names and addresses up-to-date.

Useful, but not as elegant or as handy as Linkedin. Not that I’d recommend LinkedIn to anyone.

Plaxo has a chequered history. In the early days it’s messages looked like spam and were annoying. The company climbed aboard the cluetrain and the unpleasant stuff stopped.

While Plaxo needs to make money – don’t we all? The company’s current approach may not work. It certainly doesn’t work for me.

Plaxo operates a so-called “Freemium” business model. The basic product is free, if you want to do more with the tools you have to pay. In theory it is a good business model and there are many cases where it works well.

I’ve recently come across three ways it aims to get money from me. I wouldn’t pay for any of these:

  1. Outlook sync. This was free, with a paid-for version allowing more features. Now sync is part of Plaxo Premium and costs US$60 a year – around a NZ$100.
  2. Then there’s Plaxo Pro available in three versions; Basic, Plus and Power. The Power version is a whopping US$250 a month and essentially provides you with a way to spam members. It includes Premium.
  3. Then there are e-cards, basically electronic birthday cards and similar stationary at a cost of US$20 a year.

You can forget the e-cards. Why would I ever want to pay US$20 to send them?

I’ve no wish to spam, this rules out the Pro version.

Which brings us to Plaxo Premium – paying for support is fair enough. Paying for back-up is reasonable. Paying to remove duplicates is a bit on the nose, but we’ll let that go.

I can’t use the sync to Windows Mobile and I used the Sync to Outlook when it was free and was not impressed.

Plaxo is an OK online address book although not as usesful as Facebook or Linkedin. It has around 15 million users – Linkedin has 43 million, mainly business oriented users, Facebook has 300 million.