Yahoo buys Xobni; some products have a year to live

Yahoo has bought Xobni, which specializes in organizing user address books. Most of Xobni's products will be phased out in a year's time.

Yahoo said Friday that it has bought contact management specialist Xobni for an undisclosed amount, presumably to enhance Yahoo Mail and its related applications.

But as to the future of Xobni's own products--well, that's not exactly clear. Xobni released a  FAQ indicating that the company plans to continue supporting its contact management tools for Outlook, but that other platforms may expire on July 2, 2014.

In a sense, that means that Xobni's statements about continuing support could be seen as a bit disingenuous. "Not to worry -- we aren't pulling the rug out from under you. If you're using a Xobni product today, you can keep using it," the Xobni team said in a blog post.

However, Xobni won't be accepting any more premium subscriptions, including  Xobni Pro, Xobni Enterprise, Xobni for Teams, the Xobni Salesforce Gadget, and the Xobni JIRA Gadget, the company said. Smartr Contacts for Android and Xobni for BlackBerry are no longer officially available for download, although the Android app will be pulled by the end of the day, the company said.

Xobni said that the Xobni plugin for Outlook, as well as its "premium features," will be extended through July 2, 2014, but that it may release a new version for Outlook at that time. There will be no version for Outlook 2013, the company said.

Xobni Pro for BlackBerry, the Xobni Salesforce Gadget and Xobni JIRA Gadget, Xobni Enterprise, and Xobni for Teams will all be extended for a year's time. Only Xobni for Teams will live on, as part of the Xobni for Outlook platform.

The good news? Smartr Inbox for Gmail and Smartr Contacts for iPhone remain available for download.  While downloads may be unavailable at a later date, these products are expected to function normally for existing users through July 2nd, 2014, Xobni said. So grab them now.

The deal means that one of PCWorld's best products of 2011 is now under the Yahoo banner. "The power within every Xobni product is that it responds to how you communicate," Xobni said in its post. "Every day you demonstrate who and what is important to you. That can benefit not just your inbox or smartphone, but the many services you use. Yahoo! gets that, and they want us to use our platform to make many Yahoo! services better for you."

Yahoo linked directly to the Xobni post in its corporate blog, presumably allowing Xobni to speak for itself as well.

Some of Xobni's functionality will live on in rival products. Rapportive, for example, provides some contextual information about contacts, as Smartr does, with photos and recent social activity.

Yahoo has been on a spending spree of late. On Tuesday, Yahoo bought Qwiki, an iPhone app that turns photos and movies stored on the iPhone into a short film, complete with soundtrack.  Other recent purchases include Astrid, a to-do app; Summly, a news summarization service; GoPollGo, a social polling tool; and Jybe, a discovery and recommendation startup. And, of course, Yahoo bought blogging powerhouse Tumblr for US$1.1 billion in May.

Additional reporting by Zach Miners of IDG News Service.

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