by Jeff Bonforte, CEO
Some of you may have noticed that it was about this time last year when we first announced that we would be building Xobni for the BlackBerry (given that we had just added the BlackBerry Partners Fund as an investor, I guess it made sense). We planned to release our BlackBerry product at the end of Summer 2009 (let’s say generously September 2009). In fact, we were ready with a BlackBerry product in September 2009, as planned. Most of the key features you see today were there, and it even had a simple back-end that allowed it to bring data from your Outlook Xobni to your BlackBerry…but we didn’t like it. So we made that ever painful decision not to launch, and went back to the drawing board to fill in the missing parts.
What emerged, the missing piece that we needed to make the BlackBerry product work as we knew it should, comes to you today as a new service called Xobni One.
We named it Xobni One because at the core the service takes information from any number of sources and gets them to behave like one. To be clear, Xobni One is not “sync,” as we are not adding and deleting contact data. We keep all data sets, fuse those data sets together for comprehensiveness, and surface the most relevant data at the top. Because volume of contacts is mostly the enemy of today’s address books, they break down unless they are maintained aggressively. Xobni maintains itself through the continuous flow of new information in your inbox, social networks, and now your text and calls.
Let’s consider a specific, but simple example. I might be connected to a personal Gmail account (firstname.lastname@example.org) on my BlackBerry and an Exchange account with Outlook (email@example.com) at work. Xobni One makes all the people and relationships from both accounts available in both places. So when my sister sent me an email from her new job to my personal Gmail account last week, Xobni for BlackBerry noticed the new email address automatically. Xobni One kicked in and appended the new email subject almost instantly to her profile in my Outlook account (and used the data to slightly change her relationship rank with me). The old email addresses didn’t delete. Even if it is not active, email addresses and phone numbers are an important point of reference to our past communication and related relationships.
My example above might make you wonder about privacy. After all, I just gave an example that crossing information between a work and personal account. But Xobni One is not moving the email message bodies between accounts. We are just moving the relationships, selected contact information and their ranking. The people are portable. The email stays put. Security and privacy are fundamental to us – after all, we have big enterprise customers, too!
The long term power of Xobni One will not be evident to customers from day one. This is partly by design. It is a scalable, powerful system that can today handle relatively simple, yet meaningful tasks of fusing Xobni profile data from your BlackBerry with data from Outlook (or even Outlook to Outlook). But Xobni One is capable of doing much more complicated tasks that we will show in the future. We know people want Xobni for webmail and other smart phones. Xobni One makes these much easier for us to build. We know people want to use Xobni with teams. Xobni One can do that, too.
From the company’s very founding four years ago in a dorm room at MIT, we assumed a future where Xobni would serve customers no matter the app, device or OS. Xobni One is our most significant step in that direction. And by no means is Xobni One the end of our love for Outlook. We will continue to make Xobni for Outlook the best addition on the planet for Outlook and the hundreds of millions people who spend almost 40% of their day there. But today we are excited to give you a glimpse of the future of Xobni and the products we are building.
As always, special thanks to all the amazing support from our customers, and to the great team at Xobni who make all these products come to life.