Social email startup Xobni is channeling Microsoft today. The company is now selling the premium version of its product, called Xobni Plus, which the company rolled out last year, in a number of stores. The boxed software, which will be featured in stores right next to the newly released Microsoft Office 2010 software, will be sold at Office Max, Fry’s and a few other brick and mortar establishments, putting Xobni in 3,500 stores in total. Xobni Plus will also be sold on Amazon.
Xobni is hoping to capitalize on some of the foot traffic that Microsoft will be bringing to stores for the new version of Office. Office is carried in 35,000 brick and mortar stores, and Xobni says that its software is currently in 10% of those stores, and will be adding its offering to more stores soon. The price for the boxed set will be the same as it is online: a one time fee of $29.95.
So why is Xobni going old school with software in brick and mortar stores? The company claims that retail boxes improve conversion online (60% of customers that Xobni surveyed say they are more likely to buy software online if they saw the software in a retail store) And 80% of people surveyed (over 2000 respondents) said they were likely or very likely to buy software in a retail store in the next year. Xobni also says that retail boxed software has a higher perceived value/price point.
Xobni’s social email plugin essentially makes your e-mail smarter (Xobni is inbox spelled backwards) and integrates LinkedIn, Twitter Yahoo Mail, Facebook, Skype, Hoovers and more into your Outlook inbox. The Plus product improves search in this plugin, and includes an autosuggest feature, which can use linked Facebook and LinkedIn accounts to pair Email address with full names, as well as the ability to search within your Xobni ‘feeds’ in the sidebar.
Xobni, which just raised $16.2 million in new funding, has been looking for ways to make money over the past year. Plus is one of these revenue streams, and Xobni also offers a paid syncing service between devices and desktop clients called Xobni One.
Of course, the offering of Plus in retail stores is more than just a revenue opportunity for Xobni. It’s also a branding opportunity to associate its product with Microsoft to consumers. While this move doesn’t represent an established partnership with Microsoft, Xobni is clearly hoping to ride on Office 2010’s coattails.