Xobni, which makes a free application that let users port social contacts to their Microsoft Outlook inboxes, has added support for Yahoo Mail, Facebook Platform and Hoover’s Nov. 19.
Icons for each service, which are free and opt-in, are rendered in a toggle format within the Xobni sidebar, which appears to users in a sidebar in the right side of users’ Outlook inboxes.
The plug-in now lets Yahoo Mail users preview their Yahoo Mail messages, search their e-mail and access Yahoo Mail contacts and attachments from within Outlook. There will also be a link to mail.yahoo.com to let users respond and send messages.
Xobni’s sidebar displays Facebook users’ status messages, profile pictures and friends’ pictures, recent updates made to profiles and network information. The Hoovers integration displays senders’ company information, including company description, company size and headquarters location, inside the Xobni profile.
As a treat to lure the nearly 400 million Skype users, the plug-in also now lets Skype send instant messages to other Skype users, trigger Skype to Skype calls and calling to landlines and mobile phones and SMS. Xobni’s sidebar also shows online status for Skype contacts and the ability for non-Skype contacts users to see if their contact is a Skype user.
Unlike social networks such as Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn that let users e-mail and share information with each other with abandon, Xobni’s plan is to inject social traits into the largely walled off, bland Outlook inbox.
Xobni, and its Google Gmail counterpart Xoopit, are fastening on a trend in e-mail where providers are looking to take some of the magic of social networks and add them to traditional on-premise and Web mail applications.
The idea is to make consumer and corporate inboxes more collaborative by letting users keep up on their contacts without leaving Outlook. To help its plug-in reach millions of users, Xobni (inbox, spelled backward) needs to integrate with as many e-mail clients and social apps as it can.
That’s where Yahoo Mail, Facebook, Hoovers, Skype and LinkedIn, which integrated with Xobni in June, come in. Less certain is what Xobni’s future will be. The rumor mill had Microsoft buying Xobni in April to bolster Outlook, but Xobni walked away from the deal.
Now the company, which racked up 1 million-plus downloads in six months, must go it alone offering its free plug-in in a world where inboxes are getting increasingly socialized: See Yahoo Open Strategy and the potential for OpenSocial to add more social traits to Google’s Gmail.
Xobni might consider integrating with Gmail in the future.