Xobni Comes to Gmail. What Took so Long?

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Xobni, the maker of a popular add-on for Microsoft Outlook that provides details about user contacts and faster search, is finally bringing its tool to Gmail and Google Apps.

Xobni for Gmail, which works via a browser plugin for Chrome and Firefox, adds a sidebar to Gmail to help you search and manage your contacts. Like the Outlook version, you can get at-a-glance information about individual contacts, including their name, picture, job title, company and full social network details.

Xobni for Gmail, however, isn’t merely a clone of its Outlook version. For example, it includes unique relationship history tools, suggestions for related contacts whenever you email an existing contact, and a multimedia module to view social updates from people in your network. What’s more, subscribers to the premium Xobni Pro subscribers, which provides access to additional features in the product, will be able to use the Xobni cloud service to sync contacts across Xobni for Outlook, BlackBerry and Gmail, and also across the upcoming Xobni for iPhone and Android (private betas of which will be available shortly).

This all sounds great, but it’s a bit late — to say the least. When Xobni launched its sidebar for Outlook back in 2008, it was a novel idea that attracted a significant number of users. Since then, many useful Xobni-like products, such as Rapportive and MailBrowser, have been released for Gmail. We’ll have to see whether Xobni can tempt Gmail users away from the social CRM tools they currently use. My take? Xobni for Gmail looks polished and offers good features, and I really like the ability to sync contacts across multiple email clients on the desktop and mobile devices using Xobni Pro.

Xobni for Gmail isn’t yet broadly available, but you can request access to the private beta at the Xobni website. We have an invite code for 100 readers to get priority access: Use XOBNI-GO when signing up. The basic Xobni service is free, while Xobni Pro (which provides access to the Xobni cloud service and some additional functionality, such as advanced search and “Spam rescue”) costs $7.99 per month.

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