Xobni-in-a-box: Retro brick-and-mortar sales for this Outlook add-on

Popular Outlook add-on Xobni jumps into a box in attempts to catch the wave of Outlook 2010 sales.

It's funny to think of the Xobni in-box tool in a box, but that's exactly what is about to happen; as soon as Wednesday, in fact.

A packaged version of Xobni is a new move for the product, traditionally a downloadable Windows add-on for Microsoft Outlook that can quickly index and search the contents of your in-box.

Having an Internet start-up gunning for retail store sales is interesting from a business perspective for two reasons. The first is clearly outreach; Xobni is striving to make its brand known to the same customer base who will buy Microsoft Office 2010 from brick-and-mortar stores.

The second interesting point is to consider the bottom-line sales advantage. Although the premium Xobni Plus will cost the same out-of-the-box as it does online--$29.95 (exception: the 15-percent discount posted on Amazon)--retail customers will bypass the free version, which already includes plenty of handy features for Outlook users.

Xobni has also gone the extra mile to justify why a return to boxed software after the download revolution makes sense for its business model with a market research survey suggesting that at least 80 percent of its 2,000 respondents would be somewhat likely to buy software in stores. Xobni is also banking on its presence next to Microsoft Office 2010 to push some sales.

Boxed versions of Xobni Plus will be rolling out in Office Max and Fry's Electronics stores starting Wednesday (though it may not be immediately available in all outlets.)

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.