CloudContacts, a startup aiming to make the information stranded on business cards more accessible, added a new service to its offering this week.
While they may seem archaic, business cards are still the de facto way of sharing contact information. After attending a conference or event I usually have quite a few of them tucked away in my pockets. Extracting that information accurately into my contact manager after the event, however, is a real chore. CloudContacts already offers a pretty innovative service that involves mailing in those business cards you have cluttering up your desk. CloudContacts enters the data on the cards to its online contact management service, which then allows you to export the information to your email app, CRM system or contact manager.
The new service enables you to submit your cards via email. You simply take a snap of the business card with the camera on your phone, email it to the service (via a unique email address generated for your account, similar to the way that TwitPic works) and the information on the card is extracted added to your CloudContacts contact manager.
I tried the system out with a couple of cards and it worked well. Getting a decent snap of one of the cards with my iPhone’s camera proved pretty difficult as it had a small font and a low-contrast combination of black text on a blue background. I managed to get an OK picture but thought that it might cause some problems for CloudContacts as the text was very hard to read in the photo. Not so — CloudContacts captured all of the information from the card perfectly, which was impressive.
A third card, one of those tiny MOO mini-cards that are popular with folks working on the web, proved impossible to photograph properly with my iPhone’s camera; the text was simply too small.
The CloudContacts contact management app is straightforward, though it has a couple of nice frills including automatically pulling in a Google Map and Twitter widget (if a Twitter username is present) into your contacts’ details pages. It makes it easy to export your contact data into a number of different file formats for import to your favorite email app or contacts manager.
Pricing starts at $4.95 per month for up to 20 cards. For large quantities of cards, it would be less hassle to use the CloudContacts mail-in service; CloudContacts view email subscription as a good way to “top up” your card contacts, rather than a way to input lots of cards.
CloudContacts pitches this service as more accurate and less hassle than business card scanning hardware. Having never used a business card scanner, I can’t attest to that, but with business card scanners costing upwards of $150, the pricing is reasonable.
How do you get business card data into your contacts manager?