Xobni: funny name, good times with Outlook

A shot of Xobni\'s user interfaceIt’s hard to come up with a decent name for your web startup. Believe me, we spent ages brainstorming, arguing, deciding everything we brainstormed was crap, and brainstorming some more before we came up with a name for the web startup that I was very briefly involved in. Whatever name we ended up with must have been underwhelming because I can’t actually remember it sitting here in front of my computer 3 years later.

Even the big boys—who can pay slickery consultants to sit in a room and pontificate on made-up words that will jive with whatever freaky internet talk them kids are sending down the tubes these days—come up with ridiculous names for services and websites. Please allow me to Joost up my Hulu-craft and so that we may partake in a Qoop down the Jaiku.

In a world where every English word is already registered on the .com top-level domain, the makers of Xobni can be forgiven for spelling “inbox” backward and calling it a day.

If you use Microsoft Outlook (2003/2007) for your email, then Xobni (even in its currently beta incarnation) is definitely worth a look. At its core, Xobni is an email-search tool, but it is decidedly different in its approach than what you’d get with Google Desktop or Windows Search. Xobni’s interface is people-centric. I don’t mean this in a dopey television ad way; Xobni’s interface is primarily organized to show you helpful information about the people you email. When you preview a message in Outlook, Xobni’s vertical panel shows you information about the sender, along with the most recent conversations you’ve had, and every file you’ve sent or received from that person. It automatically parses telephone numbers from mail, so you don’t have to go hunting, although this feature doesn’t always find them, in my limited experience so far.

It does take up quite a bit of screen real estate, and I feel like my preview pane is now slightly too narrow, but it does pack a bunch useful stuff into the small space. My geeky, data-visualization-loving side can’t help but appreciate the histogram of the sender’s emailing habits by hour of day, but I can’t yet to claim I’ve actually found this to be useful. One day!

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3 Responses to “Xobni: funny name, good times with Outlook”

  1. Mikell Says:

    Chizoo, wasn’t it? 😉

  2. Spike Says:

    Right you are. There were orange business cards involved.

  3. Bill Says:

    Now that Xobni has gone full public beta instead of invite only perhaps we’ll see more buzz… Probably even more if Microsoft and Xobni can come to tems on a deal of some kind.

    Xobni offers the functionality that I wish would have been included in Outlook. The search is fast, and easy across all of the mailstores, the contact management is also a great tool. I find when I have it installed [there are a couple of little bugs – see my blog] I use it throughout the day.


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