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Inbox Buddy Product Vision
This document outlines the Inbox Buddy Product Vision – or the different directions available to us with the Inbox Buddy product line.
Inbox Buddy is a client side add-in to today’s leading mail client: Microsoft Outlook (specifically versions 2000 and XP). It operates internally to your mail client performing such functions as:
- Anti-spam detection
- Mail organization by relationship
- Mail prioritization
- Visual Filtering / Color Coding
It is important to note that Inbox Buddy is licensed as an annual service, not as a software product. We did that intentionally as we saw the much of Inbox Buddy’s future relies on the integration of both server and client abilities – not solely on client side features. Although Inbox Buddy could advance purely as a client side product, a number of features are not only easier to implement server side but it also offers distinct user benefits when done server side.
That is Inbox Buddy’s function today. We see three main directions for Inbox Buddy to advance along.
We envision the following directions for Inbox Buddy:
- The Existing Baseline Product
- Password Management. In many ways this is the “killer feature” for Inbox Buddy. As virtually all passwords are sent to the user via email, we plan to adapt Inbox Buddy’s powerful text recognition features. This will be implemented as a direct feature in the next major release of Inbox Buddy with a “password safe” tool that grabs new passwords as they are sent to the user and stores them so users don’t have to remember them. Passwords in the safe will be secured (and encrypted) by an optional master pass phrase.
- Enhanced Mistake Prevention. At the core of Inbox Buddy is the recognition that mail is hard. What began as simple text messaging is now a complex authoring environment where users make mistakes. Inbox Buddy was designed to help the user along side their day to day mail – it truly is a buddy. As an example of this, Inbox Buddy currently prevents you from accidentally doing “Reply All” in the context of a BCC’d message. Additional common mail mistakes have been identified and are slated for the next version of Inbox Buddy.
- A Professional Version
- CRM Enhancements. If you were to look at Inbox Buddy’s internal XML database (stored in the file default.xml), you would see that Inbox Buddy understands business relationships such as Boss, Client, Supplier, Employee and more. From this it is a clear easy step towards additional CRM features. Inbox Buddy already has some basic CRM features such as “If I haven’t spoken to a client via email within X months/days/weeks then please remind me to contact them”.
- A Consultants Version (also possibly in the professional version; exact positioning is TBD)
- Billing for Email. Right now any type of professional who uses Inbox Buddy has the key problem that while they’d like to charge for the time they spend writing emails to clients, they effectively can’t. In order to bill for something you need to generate both summary data as well as proof of work done. We view this as a billing function with the optional ability to create a personalized client email repository on a secure server out on the Internet. This would give the consultant both the ability to bill as well as the additional value of add of “here’s all the email I sent to you”.
Server Side Enhancements
- Caching. Outlook is a wonderfully powerful email client but increasingly user’s don’t have Outlook available to them at all times. We envision adding a “My Buddy” feature to Inbox Buddy that provides a lightweight cache of their current email (and other PIM) data accessible over the Internet. Rarely do you need all your email when you don’t have Outlook available but the past week’s email would be very useful as would a copy of your contacts and the last 5 or 10 attachments.
- Searching. Clearly searching your email and your attachments in Outlook is a difficult process. Outlook does not index email nor attachments and searches are tremendously slow. We see this as a separate web service that Inbox Buddy enables if the user desires it. (bcg note – I have all the code for this and I can simulate it for demo purposes if needed with a server side rule which forwards all email to another account for indexing and I can use php code to parse a local default.xml).
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