Bloomba Broadens Its E-Mail Search

To compete more directly with Microsoft Outlook, software developer Stata Laboratories builds a calendar into its Bloomba software and plans to add calendar sharing in a forthcoming professional edition.

Bloomba, a search-based e-mail client, has added calendaring features in its newest release to more directly compete with Microsofts market-dominant Outlook client.

Along with launching Bloomba 2.0, software developer Stata Laboratories Inc. on Monday also split the Bloomba client into two versions: Bloomba Personal Edition, available now, and Bloomba Professional Edition, which will be available in July.

Both editions gain an integrated calendar as well as an improved contacts feature, but the professional version also will allow users to share their calendars and to sync their information with Palm-based handhelds.

The ability to share calendars among a group of users has become critical to many enterprises and small-business users, and it is a common reason why companies move away from using Web-based e-mail to deploying Microsoft Exchange and Outlook, said Raymie Stata, chief technology officer and founder of Stata Labs, in San Mateo, Calif.

"Its not just enough to have a built-in calendar, but people need to share this calendar data," Stata said. "Weve evolved into a real small-business solution."

Bloomba Professional Edition taps into Web servers and the commonly supported WebDAV standard to allow the sharing of calendar data and the scheduling of meetings, Stata said.

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For both versions of Bloomba, Stata provides its search capabilities with the calendar and is introducing a feature called "calendar peek," which allows users to view calendar events while at the same time viewing an e-mail message.

Bloomba, first launched in October, focuses on search as the way to organize and manage e-mail and other personal information. Much like Google Inc. has done with Gmail, its Web-based e-mail service now in beta, Bloomba makes its search query box a prominent feature in its e-mail client.

"Gmail has really created a lot of curiosity around search-based e-mail," Stata said. "Even people who abstractly believe in search arent fully aware of how conditioned they have been to not using search for their e-mail."

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read about the privacy controversy surrounding Googles Gmail.

Also new in Bloomba 2.0 are a "favorites" feature for flagging commonly used folders or saved searches and a "click-to-search" feature for starting an e-mail search for similar subjects or senders directly from a message. Bloomba also includes spam-fighting software and supports RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds.

Pricing for Bloomba Personal Edition starts at $59.99, while Bloomba Professional Edition will cost $89.99 when it becomes available, Stata Labs said.

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