I’ve been using 37signals’ Backpack product for several years now, since February 2007. It turns out that 37signals retired the product back in June 2012, and is no longer accepting new customers for it. It still works fine for me, and they haven’t said anything about shutting it down entirely. I don’t recall ever seeing a notice on my Backpack page letting me know that they were retiring the product, but maybe I missed it. And, when I go to my account maintenance page now, there’s no indication there either; it still shows the same plan upgrade options that it always has. I’m still on the $7/month plan, and happy with that. If they’re not actually going to shut down the service for existing users, I might as well stick with it for the time being.
I use Satchel on my iPhone and iPad to access by Backpack account. It also still works, but hasn’t been updated since 2010, and likely won’t be updated again. In fact, I don’t see the full version as available in the App Store anymore, so I guess I need to be careful not to lose the copy in my iTunes library.
Since 37signals is still charging for Backpack, and since it (likely) runs on the same platform as their other services, I imagine they’ll keep it running for the foreseeable future. There’s no reason for them to shut down a service that’s generating revenue, and probably not costing them much money to keep running.
Still, it seems prudent to look into alternatives. 37signals would probably like people to move from Backpack to Basecamp, but that wouldn’t make much sense for me. Basecamp starts at $30/month, and isn’t really meant to be used as a single-person personal organizer.
Likewise, Papyrs would probably like to grab up some of Backpack’s customer base. They actually have a blog post about Backpack’s retirement on their site that’s interesting and well-written. Papyrus isn’t a good fit for me either though. It starts at $49/month and is really meant to be used for small company intranets.
There’s a good list of Backpack alternatives at http://alternativeto.net/software/backpack/. The first item on their list is Evernote, which I do use. But I’m not sure I’d like it as a replacement for Backpack. Second on their list is OneNote, which I also use, but also isn’t quite what I would want as a Backpack replacement.
I may write up some more notes on this subject, as it’s the kind of thing I enjoy messing around with and writing about, but for now, I’ve got other stuff to do today…