Xobni releases Microsoft Outlook addon

Xobni is to release an enterprise version of its Microsoft Outlook search app.

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The new Xobni ('inbox' spelled backwards) Enterprise server software lets IT managers centrally deploy and manage the company's plugin to employees' client PCs, Xobni CEO Jeff Bonforte said in an interview last week.

Xobni Enterprise is the second paid product from the startup. In July, it released the $29.95 Xobni Plus, a premium version of its free Outlook plugin. So far, there have been 3 million downloads of Xobni's free version; Bonforte expects that number to grow to 1 million downloads a quarter by 2010.

Reviewers such as Computerworld 's Preston Gralla have raved about Xobni's fast, precise searches of Outlook emails and address books, searches that Bonforte claims actually get faster and more accurate as users' inboxes grow.

Xobni's mini-dashboard also offers Business Intelligence-style analytics of email contacts, ranking them by importance based on the number of emails exchanged and how quickly a user sends and receives replies. It also creates profiles of contacts, updating contact information automatically by mining senders' email signatures for new phone numbers, for instance.

"The average address book is 30% out of date. Xobni's is just 10%," Bonforte said.

Xobni has also formally teamed up with LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, so it adds links to a user's contacts' profiles or messages from those networks. Some of these features are, or will only be, available in Xobni Plus, while others such as support for LDAP networking, IT policies and the ability to swap out Twitter links for Salesforce.com or other business-oriented custom ones are available in Xobni Enterprise.

"We are super friendly with IT, and can abide by any general IT policy. Rules are rules," he said.

Xobni Enterprise starts at $30 per user per year for small companies, with volume discounts available. Xobni is already compatible with Windows 7 and will be compatible with Outlook 2010 when it is released by the middle of next year.

Microsoft has said that it plans to improve search for Outlook 2010. But Bonforte isn't worried about Microsoft killing demand for Xobni, in part because he guesses that users would likely be forced to upgrade to the latest 2010 versions of Exchange and SharePoint in order to see any improvements.

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