by Al Sacco

Xobni for BlackBerry Now Available: Mobile Contact Mgmt. Redefined

Mar 16, 2010
Data CenterMobileSmall and Medium Business

BlackBerry users just got a whole new way to store and access contacts on the go: Xobni for BlackBerry.'s Al Sacco says the new app's a must-have for any and all heavy e-mail users with large contact lists. Here's why.

You may never use your BlackBerry contacts application, or address book, in the same way again. I know I won’t. As long as the new Xobni for BlackBerry application is available, that is.

Today, Xobni–“Inbox” spelled backwards–released the much anticipated Xobni for BlackBerry contacts management application, along with an associated service dubbed “Xobni One,” that links the Xobni BlackBerry app with users’ Microsoft Outlook accounts to provide a much more robust BlackBerry address book.

Xobni’s extension for Microsoft Outlook itself has been available for quite some time now, but Xobni for BlackBerry is the first official mobile version of the software. And it’s not just for Outlook users, either; Xobni for BlackBerry can be used with most common consumer e-mail services, including Gmail and Yahoo! Mail, as well as additional enterprise mail options such as Lotus Notes, according to the company.

I’ve been beta-testing Xobni for BlackBerry and Xobni One for a few weeks now, and I must say, I’m very impressed with the application. Here’s why.

Xobni for BlackBerry automatically generates in-depth “profiles” for anyone you communicate with via e-mail. Anyone, meaning e-mail senders, recipients, folks who were CC’d, etc. And the application organizes those profiles using “Xobni Rank,” which orders your contacts based on how often you communicate with them, instead of the traditional alphabetical order approach. You never have to create new contact entries on your own when using Xobni for BlackBerry.

Xobni for BlackBerry profiles include phone numbers, e-mail addresses, profile images, and both LinkedIn and Facebook account information, where available.

And Xobni claims its service actually works better with more contacts, so you never have to worry about “overloading” the app, whether you have 50, 500 or 5,000 contacts.

The best part about Xobni is the way it’s integrated with the BlackBerry OS, so it’s both intuitive and easy to use. For example, you can add Xobni contacts to e-mail sender-lists by simply opening up a new message, scrolling to the very top of the display to the on-screen “Xobni bar” and then manually adding contacts one at a time by clicking icons next to their names until you’re ready to return to your e-mail, via the BlackBerry “Escape” key.

You can also access your Xobni contacts without opening your BlackBerry messaging app by clicking the Xobni icon on your BlackBerry home screen. And searching for specific contacts via Xobni is easy and fast.

This is the way RIM’s default BlackBerry contacts app should work.

Initial Xobni for BlackBerry and Xobni One pricing is as follows:

  • Xobni for BlackBerry: One-time fee of $9.99
  • Xobni for BlackBerry with Xobni One: $6.99 one-time fee plus $3.99 a month; or one-time fee of $39.90 for a year of service.

I think the software is well-worth the price–though I also think the app would be more appealing to the average BlackBerry user if Xobni plus Xobni One were priced at $30 a year instead of $40.

The first time you use Xobni for BlackBerry with Xobni One, the application “scans” your Outlook account for contacts, and you can choose to store the information on-device or on an external memory card. The process can be lengthy, especially if you have thousands of contacts, and it’ll “bog-down” your device for a bit. But I found that Xobni for BlackBerry had little effect on my Bold 9700 after that initial scan, even though it stays running in the background.

You have to “re-scan” all your Outlook contacts whenever you install a new BlackBerry OS, but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue for the average user. Xobni for BlackBerry could also be stronger if it integrated with other BlackBerry messaging app like the SMS/MMS folders or BlackBerry Messenger (BBM).

Bottom line: The folks at Xobni have taken a great idea and implemented it admirably on the BlackBerry platform, creating a must-have BlackBerry app for anyone who uses their smartphone for frequent e-mail communication–especially if you’re also a Microsoft Outlook user.

Xobni for BlackBerry is currently available for the BlackBerry Curve 8900, Storm/Storm2, Tour 9630 and both BlackBerry Bold devices (9000/9700)–sorry Pearl and Curve 83xx users. And the software can be downloaded via Xobni’s website.