• 03.16.10

Xobni’s BlackBerry App Re-Thinks Contact List, Reorders by Importance, but Can It Save Blackberry?

San Francisco-based startup Xobni today introduced its first mobile product: Xobni for BlackBerry. It takes a different approach to contact lists than traditional systems, and integrates the new system deeply within the BlackBerry OS.


Instead of a traditional alphabetical list (the alphabet is so uncool these days), Xobni for BlackBerry scours through your emails, text messages, phone calls, and other communication to create a new contact list in order of importance. Even better, it can be accessed in a few different ways: either in the expected Xobni app, or through BlackBerry’s native email client.


When sending an email, you can just flick up on the trackball or trackpad (it’s unclear how this would integrate with the touchscreen BlackBerry Storm line) and Xobni’s “fast search” is activated, letting you select the person you’re emailing more swiftly.

Xobni had previously achieved a bit of success with a sorta-similar plugin for Microsoft Outlook that utilized the same kind of fast search and ranked contact information, and this new mobile app also has an option to continue that integration with Outlook, called Xobni One, though users without Outlook can opt for the standard, cheaper version. The Outlook plugin has been generally well-received, though the service stumbled at first–hopefully they’ve ironed out any potential stumbling blocks in the mobile app.

The app comes at a critical time for the BlackBerry platform: while it’s still the number 2 most popular smartphone OS in the world, its rigid focus on business use and inability to successfully market a consumer-oriented handset are taking its toll. This survey found little brand loyalty among BlackBerry users, compared to iPhone or Android users. And it looks like a scary percentage of BlackBerry users are considering a jump to iPhone or Android with their next smartphone, a dangerous stat. Xobni is a continuation of that business focus for BlackBerry, and that market will probably love it–but BlackBerry’s going to need to court consumer users if they want to remain a player in the smartphone world.

Xobni Mobile is compatible with the Bold (9000), Bold 2 (9700), Storm, Tour, and Curve models. It’s available now–the version without Xobni One (Outlook) is a simple $10 purchase, while Xobni One costs $7, with a $4 monthly fee.


About the author

Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Popular Science, The Awl, Gizmodo, Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. He holds an undergraduate degree from McGill University and currently lives in Brooklyn, because he has a beard and glasses and that's the law.