Xobni: inbox spelled backwards
One of the interesting trends in software (particularly commerce software) is the resurgence of the desktop application. For years, the focus on web exclusive applications ("all applications will live in the cloud") has created a somewhat fractured environment where I spend most of my day switching between multiple web sites and local desktop applications.
However, leveraging software like Adobe AIR and Microsoft Silverlight, numerous companies have built new experiences that add value to the business user. These "Rich Internet Applications" or "Internet-Connected Applications" leverage local processing power (within their defined sandbox) while maintaining a fair amount of context on the remote server (majority of data, application state, etc). While not traditional "desktop" style applications, these solutions bridge the gap between the desktop and the cloud.
(As an aside, the Silverlight capabilities are a subset of Microsoft’s WPF which provides the graphical subsytem for .NET 3.0)
I will blog more, later this week, about desktop applications (RIA or similar) that I have found particularly useful in my day-to-day activities. If there are solutions that you use frequently that fall into this category, leave me a comment or e-mail me at the :about me: link above.
Xobni is NOT an RIA style application.
Rather, it represents a return to the application "add-in" model of development. In this case, it is an excellent addition to Outlook.
This data is anecdotal, but during a few trade shows I’ve been told that Microsoft Office has an install base of 450M users. 450M users. . .that is a substantial number of users that can, very simply, start leveraging the capabilities of a solution such as Xobni. This add-in, integrated to the line of business application known as Outlook, is hugely useful.
So what does Xobni do for me? (click the link to read their marketing materials)
- Allows me to search quickly. . . VERY quickly
- Provides a way to find attachments based on a person (i.e. all files exchanged with this contact)
- Displays e-mails in threaded fashion
- Shows e-mail trends (time of day, frequency of send vs. receive)
- Did I mention the speed of search?
There are a few things I would change (in particular, the ability to index attachment content in addition to e-mail content) but it is an extraordinarily stable, and powerful, beta product.
More importantly, it is helping me perform my daily business better. I’m not being driven to another web-site. . .or inputting data into a new network. . .I’m simply using Outlook. I spend an inordinate amount of type in that application (corporate e-mail, rss feeds, scheduling, etc) and to have something integrated, that adds value, is a huge welcome.
That is the beauty of building solutions for existing line of business applications. A small business owner probably spends a fair amount of time in their accounting application. They shouldn’t have to go to multiple locations for card-processing, reporting, data gathering, etc. This, in some circumstances, represents an inherent benefit of an actual application integration vs. a stand-alone RIA. Each type of solution has its niche. However, Xobni as a stand-alone application would have little use to me.
Perhaps the only other thing I would add to Xobni is a bit of commerce capability. If I now have contact information handy at my fingertips, it would be a relatively straight-forward exercise to allow me to pay, or even invoice, that contact. The integration of payment initiation into the tool that has my contact information seems that it would drive not only personal but business adoption of the Xobni solution.
What’s your perspective? Agree? Disagree? Anything to add? Critiques?
The comment form is below. . .
October 31, 2007