Plaxo 3.0, the new “Switzerland” of social networks, but…

UPDATE: Not yet on TechCrunch (as of 10:13 p.m.)! Damn, it’s not often that I scoop Mike Arrington by more than an hour on an important Web product launch! Hi Mike! 🙂 Heck, as of 10:48 p.m. it’s not up on Om Malik’s site, either.

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I really want to love the new Plaxo. The 18-minute demo I got last week is awesome — see it embedded above. They’ve completely rebuilt the system from scratch and removed the reliance on Outlook and the negative “send spam to your friends” kind of stuff.

UPDATE: Here’s an interview I did with the chief platform architect and VP of marketing of Plaxo and here’s the demo video which shows us what’s cool and new about the new Plaxo.

It’s now a Web service. In fact you can use Plaxo without loading any software. All to manage your contacts. For someone like me that still has most of my contacts in Outlook the new Plaxo is a godsend. It lets me move my contacts, my calendar data, and other things out of Outlook and onto other platforms.

You can move things over to Google, AIM, Yahoo, the Mac’s iCal, and a variety of other applications and cell phones.

It is really awesome.

Now comes the “but.”

In my tests today it was way too slow. It’s not synching reliably with my Outlook 2007 running on Parallels on the Mac. Had to drop back to XP and Office 2003 to get it to work right. Even then it took hours to sync up my stuff and I only have 378 contacts in Outlook and a moderately complex calendar.

Also, I just checked my Gmail account and it didn’t synch those yet. Gotta go and figure that out.

On the other hand it now is encroaching on social networking apps like LinkedIn and Facebook. If they can get it all to work (and get filters for my cell phones and LinkedIn and Facebook itself) then it’d be great. UPDATE: the new Plaxo 3.0 already hooks up to LinkedIn, can someone try that and report on how it works?

Speaking of filters. When you log into the new Plaxo it doesn’t yet hook up with anything. You have to tell it how to hook up with things like Outlook and Gmail.

This will be MUCH clearer after you see the demo video. It really is pretty brilliant design for adding on new functionality. It’s just that there’s a lot missing that we need to really give the new Plaxo a five star review.

You’ll want to use this, though. When it works it’s the best way to manage your contacts.

If you try it out, what do you think?

UPDATE: Plaxo competitor LinkedIn today let leak that they are thinking of opening its platform up to developers. That’s a smart way to keep people on LinkedIn.

UPDATE2: there are several other articles about Plaxo 3.0 already up on TechMeme and I’ll put the best ones, as usual, on my link blog as well.

UPDATE3: If you try out the new Plaxo, make sure to add me as a contact and see if it brings down all my info. My email is