clearcontext1.JPGAs we assert in a recent post about email startups, there’s a problem for people who use email a lot: Too many messages flowing into a single inbox will inevitably overwhelm even the most organized user.

ClearContext, like Xobni (our coverage), wants to help business people handle inbox-overload in Microsoft Outlook, by offering a product that sits on top of Outlook. However, it works a bit differently than Xobni, and with a different end user in mind.

ClearContext helps with project management: sorting and categorizing emails relating to a particular subject, rather than giving more information about senders, which is Xobni’s specialty.

For most of us, new emails appear at the top of the inbox, and then as the day goes by, are buried — and often forgotten. With ClearContext, the user can separate emails according to their priority, set them to re-appear later, delegate them to a different user or file them into various project views.

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Where Xobni is useful for professionals like yours truly at VentureBeat, who deal with large numbers of contacts and constantly shifting priorities, ClearContext is aimed at business users with several large, ongoing projects, but fewer contacts to juggle.

So ClearContext helps give some structure to the user’s day. It allows new email notifications to be selectively turned on or off, giving the user breathing room to work on the actual projects related to their email communications. At other times, users are encouraged to go through and deal with their prioritized emails.

Dealing with email volume is the purpose behind both Xobni and ClearContext. Deva Hazarika, ClearContext’s founder, said his software is generally only useful for people who receive more than 50 emails each day.

ClearContext isn’t the first startup taking the project management approach. Orla, for instance, a United Kingdom company, centers around a simple “4D” process for ditching, delegating away or taking some other action for specific email. Xobni threads email conversations to make them understandable, Zimbra allows its users to hide unimportant emails and collaborate on projects.

However, the specific attention ClearContext pays to its target group pays off. The software looked slick and easy to manage during a demo — intuitive, just as email should be.

The new product, IMS v4, is launching this morning. It’s for paying customers, but the company also maintains a free version, found here.

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