When X-1 Technologies came out many years ago, I stopped keeping a contact list. When I wanted to find a phone number, I just searched for someone’s name. Desktop search was the first step toward making sense of my inbox, and maintaining email's position as the killer app even beyond the 90's. Today, you might say companies like Xoopit are trying to help Webmail services remain relevant as social networks become the primary place to communicate, especially with the younger generations.
Today, with Xoopit, my Gmail inbox isn’t just organized, it’s a lot more fun. Each time I check out my email, I see thumbnails of the latest photos or images. It’s like someone opening up my mail and just laying them out for me in a photo slide, so I can easily see them sliding across the top of my inbox.
Xoopit is one of a few companies emerging as plugins to email accounts, enabling our inboxes to be more like social networks.
”Xoopit is about finding the media and helping you generate social experiences with people,” said Bijan Marashi, Xoopit's co-founder and CEO, who stopped by the Vator studio. “Xoopit makes your Webmail feel a lot more like Facebook, and a lot less like Outlook.”
(Note: I'm interviewing Jack Dorsey of Twitter this week. What should I ask him?)
Xoopit is pretty easy. I downloaded the plugin. It took about five minutes for Xoopit to begin finding my photos, videos, files and organizing them. Within hours, Xoopit found all of my 3000 rich-media files and had them aggregated. It’s what Bijan calls a “Super feed” from across the Web, such as Shutterfly, Photobucket and Flickr.
On Xoopit, you can search for all photos from a particular person, so you don't have to open up each email from that person.
And, when I’m searching for files, I can narrow that search down to newest, oldest or Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Acrobat, etc.
This weekend, I needed to find some artwork for a badge. Rather than search for the name of the person and open up emails, I just looked at my photo slide and found the art. I clicked on the image, and the photo, along with the sender popped up.
Once the photo pops up, I can send a quick comment to the sender, forward the photo or post to my Facebook account. See example below.
Xoopit is definitely helping me organize my photos. But at this point, there are a few bugs and it doesn't help me discover people, like social networks do.
Bijan realizes this and said that we can all expect future versions of Xoopit to enable people to see who knows whom, depending on their email activity. This is similar to Xobni and Clear Context, two companies s already doing this today. The difference between Xoopit and these two companies is that Xoopit focuses on Webmail, while the other two are targeting the 500,000 Outlook users, and the professional user rather than consumers.
And, as for how Xoopit plans to monetize, Bijan said Xoopit plans to make money via advertising, much like RockYou and Slide apps are monetized on social networks. When you click onto a Xoopit image, you end up on a Xoopit canvas that overrides Google ads. Seems to me that that could be a problem down the road for Xoopit's monetization efforts.
Xoopit's time has come. It's a great way to make even more sense of your inbox, and to rely even more on it. But I learned something about relying on services, like X-1 Technologies, that help you organize your inbox. You don't depend on them once you've dropped a particular email service.
One thing that Xoopit might think about doing is storing all the information it's crawling and organizing, so when someone bounces around from one Webmail to another, they can still access those files and data. Now, that would be a service.