Archive for November, 2010

Tis the Season… to Work, Xobni Survey Finds


So… we did it again.  As you may recall, we did a survey about Americans’ email habits back in September, and found that 70% of people surveyed admitted to emailing after work hours – and 50% emailed while on vacation.  It was the last bit that inspired us to do the next survey.  Surely people aren’t emailing from the Thanksgiving table, eh?  Have we really taken it this far? Alas, the answer is yes – for some of us.

And not only are we checking email – 19% of us said we are “relieved” or “thankful” for the distraction of email on holidays!  Oh my, people.  What have we become?  Aunt Betty would not be pleased.  That said, 41 percent of respondents said they either annoyed, frustrated or resentful after receiving these emails.

In all honesty, living in Silicon Valley where it seems people reach for their smartphone every time our life has a pause, we aren’t all that surprised that this many people may be sneaking a peak at their email while dining with family and friends this Thursday (us? why never!), but we were surprised at how consistent this was across the US.

Now on to the results from the Xobni survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Xobni (2,179 respondents adults ages 18 and older) earlier this month:

  • 79 Percent of U.S. Working Adults Say They Have Received Work-Related Emails on Holidays; 59 Percent will Check Work Email on Holidays
  • 19 Percent Are “Thankful” or “Relieved” to Have the Distraction of Work Email on Holidays
  • Of the people that admitted to checking work email on the holiday, 28% said they will do so multiple times throughout the day and over half (55%) check work email at least once.
  • Employed middle-aged adults feel the greatest urge, with 65 percent of those aged 35-44 stating that they have checked work emails on holidays.
  • 41 percent of those that received work emails from a co-worker/client while they had time off for the holidays said they were either annoyed, frustrated or resentful after receiving these emails – and younger people (ages 18-34) had the strongest negative opinion among the age groups.
  • The survey also found that 12 percent of respondents actually “dread” seeing work emails populate their inbox and 10 percent even feel pity for those who do send work-related emails on holidays.
  • Working Men are guiltier than working women when it comes to checking email on holidays – 67 percent and 50 percent, respectfully, admitted to checking email on holidays.
  • And while the East and West coasts are traditionally considered to be the beating hearts of capitalism in the US, the survey found that the Southern region led the way with the most people sharing that they check work emails during the Holidays –63 percent (compared to 57 percent for the West and  59for the Northeast).
  • One in ten people who admitted to checking email while off for a holiday stated that they did so while spending time with friends or relatives at Holiday parties/gatherings or during meals.

Full press release with results can be found here.

Giving Thanks

Xobni is celebrating Thanksgiving THIS Thursday (say that 7 times fast) since we’ll all be with our respective families and friends on Thanksgiving Day.

This Thanksgiving, we’re thankful for all of our customers (especially those of you who pay!) – and for each other.  We are fortunate to work on real problems with smart co-workers for great customers.

 

Email the New Front in Facebook/Gmail Wars?

Earlier this week, our CEO, Jeff, wrote a blog post on Xobni’s thoughts around the Facebook Messaging announcement.  As players in the social inbox for nearly 2.5 years, we believe we have a unique perspective on this news and are excited by the possibilities it brings.

Jeff was asked by our friends at GigaOm to dive a little deeper into the announcement with respect to the multiple “identities” we have on and offline – and what impact that has on this announcement.  That blog post can be found by clicking the link below, or on GigaOm here.

Continue reading ‘Email the New Front in Facebook/Gmail Wars?’

VOTE FOR XOBNI!

For all you Xobni for BlackBerry fans – please cast your vote!  We’re proud to be listed as a finalist for the Pocket-lint Gadget Awards for 2010.  The competition in our category (Best App) is fierce, so we need your support!

Vote today (the higher the score, the better the rating. Hint: vote 5!).  Note that you need to cast a vote or mark “no vote” for each line for your vote to go through.

Thanks for all your support!

P.S. A little shameless promotion for Xobni for BB while you are pondering your vote… We recently received Editor’s Choice for CrackBerry App Awards, became 6.0 compatible, and got some great news/coverage from our blogger friends – Berryfication, TheBerryFix, PocketBerry – and of course one of our favorite blog posts about being a favorite among CrackBerry bloggers (6 out of 9 said it was a top 3 app for them).

 

 

Xobni’s Thoughts on Facebook Announcement

By Jeff Bonforte, CEO of Xobni (and 10+ year vet in messaging space)

A few of the big internet players have made big advances in email/messaging. Way back when, Aol let us know we, in fact, had mail. Yahoo! and Hotmail made it global and free. Microsoft made it work for business with Exchange and Outlook. BlackBerry made it portable. And Gmail took off the storage limits, which, lucky for them, increased the need for better search.

Facebook announced this morning they intend to make two more contributions. They will make messaging social and, undeterred by Google Wave, more realtime.

I will defer to others to address the importance of making messaging more realtime. To me, the biggest announcement is making messaging social, or socially aware as we say here at Xobni.

Making messaging social involves two big steps. First is identity. Messages come from people, not email accounts, yet with the exception of Xobni running in Outlook, no inbox seems to knows the correct answer to “who?”. The next key element of a social inbox is understanding relationships.

Let’s take a minute to understand the depth of the challenge.

The address book can’t help in understanding who is really most important to you. For most active business users of email (our sweet spot), their address book has about 400 contacts (albeit only 40% of that data is correct). But guess how many “people” are actually in the inbox? 4000. And that is average. You can easily interact with over 10,000 people from the age of 20 to 30. So even in the best circumstances, today, the address book doesn’t have even a starting point reference for over 90% of the people in our inbox. [By the way, I am not suggesting we cram 10,000 contacts into our current address books. Address books are even more broken than the inbox…but that is for another post and another product announcement ;)]

When it comes to handling all these thousands of relationships, our brains aren’t much help either. Humans have the capacity to maintain about 150 meaningful relationship (known as the “Dunbar number”) before our brains get muddy.

But people are the one thing Facebook (and Linkedin) understand very well. These social networks can keep track of the identities of tens of millions of people. And by doing this, they won’t just make us happier in our inboxes, they make us more productive. Before I talk about the big blind spot that will challenge Facebook here, let’s examine how understanding people makes the inbox much better:

Massively improved email search.

The first and most popular product we make at Xobni is our improved email search. There aren’t many things in the world a startup can claim to do better than Google, and almost no one can claim to do anything in search better. But when it comes to searching the inbox, Xobni (and Facebook) can do much better than Google.

Why? Perspective. The old inboxes try their best to make sense of our email using adjustments to keyword algorithm search technology. But searching personal data, particularly our inboxes with keyword-based search is mostly ineffective.

Even though we have trained our brains to take a simple query like “that link Terra sent me last week” and to translate it into a unique keyword search with varied levels of success, understanding people and relationships makes this query trivial, as Xobni users can attest.

You simply need to be able to answer the question “who?” and hopefully a bit of “why?”. With this knowledge, getting to the “what?” (the link Terra sent me last week) is pretty simple.

Without Xobni’s help, I don’t believe any inbox today can figure out the difference between Eric Grafstrom (my co-worker at Xobni), Eric Vandenberg (the center on my 8th grade basketball team), and Eric Van Miltenberg (a colleague from my Yahoo! days). Of course the problem is more complex. I don’t just know three “erics”. According to Xobni, I know over 60!

We know that understanding people improves productivity, captured by this simple stat: after a Xobni user tries their first “search by people” instead of keyword, that user is over 85% likely to become a long term active Xobni user.

The big challenge for Facebook: Explicit vs. Implicit data.

Even armed with the identities of over 500M users, Facebook has a big challenge in using social data to make messaging better. In fact, their blind spot might make the problem worse in some regards. The reason is the size and breadth of the index matters. Facebook’s perspective is too narrow. First, it is focused, primarily on our personal relationships, and more importantly, it is heavy in explicit (public) data and light on the more important implicit (private) data.

Explicit data is that which we tell others about ourselves. It is our marketing message to the world. Explicit data is the stuff I publish on social networks and on Twitter. It is what I want the world to think about me, and hear about me, and know about me. But explicit data hides our true relationships. It also can heavily skew relationship relevance, as it relates to improving our productivity.

Here are a few examples: Facebook tells me that the number one “Damion” I know is the lead guitarist of a big Journey cover band. Kind of right. Except, Damion, to me, is my painting contractor, not a guitarist playing next week. This is similar to how Linkedin incorrectly (for me) identifies Nancy as the Director of the Turf Club in Del Mar. She is that…but of course to me, she is my Mom. And Facebook doesn’t, actually, know her at all.

If Facebook remains a single perspective in my life, primarily focused on personal, explicit data, it will miss big opportunities to improve productivity, customize apps and simplify product interfaces.

Making messaging social is a great advancement. And Facebook has a big role to play in making it happen. But there remain significant challenges to Facebook, and their strengths, like for others, can quickly become their weakness. I could go on and on, but will end with this last statement/plea: The more open their platform the more likely we will look back in ten years and thank them for their great contribution to messaging.

Xobni for BlackBerry OS 6 support & major update

By Michael Albers

Since the launch of the BlackBerry Torch and OS 6.x for BlackBerry, the most common request from our users, partners and friends at RIM was support of Xobni for BlackBerry on OS 6.  And today we’re happy to give it to you. 🙂  Xobni now officially supports OS 6.x and fully integrates with the Torch for an Optimal Xobni experience. The introduction of the touchscreen enhances the way the users can invoke, scroll and view their automatically generated Xobni Contacts.

In addition, we’ve included significant enhancements, improvements and fixes for the updated Xobni for BlackBerry app, thanks to user feedback and testing.

We will be making this available at: bb.xobni.com, App World, Mobihand, Handango, Getjar and PocketGear (Note: some stores may take a day or so to reflect the update).

Version 1.0.88.9 offers the following features/functionality:

OS 6.x Support!

  • Touching the Xobni bar or flick up works on compose, reply and forward actions for OS 6 devices
  • Updated High-Definition icons
  • Touch scrolling enhanced for optimized scrolling experience
  • Editing is now aware of virtual keyboard display and formats content shown on remaining screen
  • Xobni bar now appearing in all relevant cases
  • Add picture now available for contacts via camera

Interface updates

  • Setup guide overhaul (New permission, sign in/create acct, trial start, loading contacts, etc. screens)
  • Phone icon is now shown by default for all phones
  • Icons for mail/phone have new dropdown to show additional emails and numbers
  • Preserved focus on contact in search result when returning to home screen
  • Push the device call button to call or sms when contact is selected
  • Xobni appears on home screen after download, not download folder (5.x/6.x)
  • Contact detail UI update (coloring changes; click calendar entry to jump to entry)
  • Added keyboard shortcuts to options (edit, hide, merge, jump to top & bottom support)
  • No longer will show Microsoft Exchange addresses for contacts
  • Multiple bars should no longer show up in certain cases

Contact Extraction Improvements

  • Phone number extraction fixes and improvements
  • Fixes for scanning emails, sms, etc.
  • Xobni One contact update and merging improvements

Contact Edit improvements

  • Editing a content will now allow you to see snippets even after edit
  • Contacts marked as list, now show up in the compose screen as well

Key stability and performance improvements

Improvements for activation & trial related issues

All user preferences are maintained during upgrades

Other bug-fixes and improvements

We’ve been proud to get rave reviews in the media and with our blogger friends, but we couldn’t do it without you.  Please continue to improve Xobni Mobile by sending feedback directly from the app by clicking the “Contact Xobni” menu item.  As evidenced in the notes above, we listen!

Enjoy!

The Xobni Mobile Team


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About Xobni

Xobni’s contact management products offer lightning fast email search and organization of your inbox, as well as an innovative and comprehensive address book for the mobile device.

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