Xobni, the add-on tool that taps into Outlook to unleash contacts, has been smart about its growth, launching an enterprise version this week at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in San Francisco. And for the most part, the reviews of Xobni Enterprise have been pretty favorable.
I won't argue that Xobni, the company, hasn't been smart about the directions it's taken. Microsoft's Outlook, after all, is widely used in corporate settings - and I know for sure that my work inbox is far more unruly than my personal one. Unfortunately, I use a Mac, which means my version of Microsoft Office includes Entourage, not Outlook - and that leaves me unable to use Xobni.
But I'm not writing this to whine about products that aren't available for Mac users (even though Apple has gained share on Windows in recent quarters). Instead, I can't help but think about the city of Los Angeles, which recently voted to "Go Google" for e-mail services.
Yes, I understand that you can route Web mail into Outlook through POP, but isn't the whole point of dumping Exchange in favor Google - beyond the cost savings - to use a Web-based interface for access anywhere there's a Web browser? I like the idea of using Xobni to better manage an out-of-control inbox but not at the expense of being tied to a single tool in a single program on a single computer. Maybe it's me but that approach feels very 1999.
I know Xobni has a Blackberry version in the works (but nothing yet for Android or the iPhone.) Don't get me wrong - from what I've seen, I think Xobni is a great product. But if it wants to maintain that momentum, it's going to do more than respond to changing times, it's going to have to get ahead of the trends. Today, the big trends are a push toward the Web and a push into mobile.
From that perspective, Xobni still has a lot more work to do.