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Archive for May 7th, 2008

Xobni reviewed… there’s more coming…

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As mentioned in my previous posting, I have been using Xobni and have loved it for a few simple reason… the threaded email is a bonus in Outlook though I use more of Gmail (our emails are on Google Hosted) threaded email, the people connected with the sender is a good way for me to quickly see who to cc / has been cced in the past email correspondence, and the last useful thing for me is the list of all the attachments from a specific sender all in one tab.

Here’s a review from Ars Technica on Xobni extracted:

Installed as a plug-in for Office 2003 or 2007 on XP and Vista, Xobni functions as a sort of contextual sidebar assistant that displays relevant information about each message and its sender, or a currently selected contact. I use only two fairly active accounts in Outlook, and Xobni’s initial scan of my e-mail didn’t take noticeably long at all.

At the top of the Xobni sidebar is a search panel that allows you to find contacts from your inbox and message folders, or search your address book. Just below is an “e-mail analytics” panel that displays activity of the sender over the past 24 hours, followed by a metadata dashboard that sniffs out contact information from the current message. Below these panels is a “Network” area that shows every person the current sender has sent messages to (combed from the messages in your inbox), as well as a Conversations panel that brings the popular new message aggregation paradigm to Outlook. At the bottom of the main Xobni sidebar panel is a “Files Exchanged” area which, as you might imagine, offers quick access to all the files you’ve exchanged with the currently selected contact.

Some coverage from around the web, including one from Bill Gates himself, dub Xobni as a social networking tool. After spending some time with it, I can see that angle to an extent. Social networking, by definition, means that there is a singular platform or website that members come to for meeting friends, exchanging content, posting photos, playing silly games, etc. But Outlook itself can’t really be considered a platform in the massive industry of e-mail clients and products; users are spread across platforms, web apps like Hotmail and Gmail, and desktop apps like Mail, Thunderbird, and much, much more.

However, Outlook’s massive market share—especially among businesses—can’t be ignored either, which is where Xobni may be able to shine as something of a social networking tool. The features I’ve covered here certainly can cross over into social networking territory, but after speaking with Xobni, social networking doesn’t seem to be one of the company’s top priorities (some of which we’ll get into shortly). Still, within an organization where most, if not all, employees are standardized on Microsoft Office and Outlook, Xobni’s features can certainly bring some social aspects to managing e-mail and interacting with coworkers.

What is interesting is the remark made by the Evan Solomon from Xobni at the end of the review article…

As with any useful product from a startup like Xobni, the money question is an important one if users or an organization considers depending on a tool like this in any capacity—and Xobni recently turned down an offer from Microsoft according to TechCrunch. I asked Xobni’s Evan Solomon about what the company’s future plans are for new features and monetizing the Xobni plug-in, and received some interesting answers. Evan said a paid premium version will be available in the near future that will offer features beyond the free version, which will always remain free.

Even also spoke of Xobni’s potential as a platform for Outlook integration. He couldn’t disclose any specific features right now, but he stated that the company has developed some unique APIs for utilizing third-party data within Outlook. “You can imagine,” Evan said, “the value of having Salesforce or LinkedIn data available alongside your e-mail without having to open a browser or even a separate view inside Outlook.”

Clearly, Xobni’s aspirations aim far beyond adding a few organizational perks to using Outlook. In its current form, however, Xobni definitely makes treading the sea of e-mail in Outlook a much more productive experience.

Written by gooddealz

May 7, 2008 at 2:32 am

Posted in Watch Out