The End of Email? Not Likely

Picture 21The WSJ offers a lengthy article today proclaiming the end of email in favor of other types of tools such as social networks and email successors such as Google Wave:

Email has had a good run as king of communications. But its reign is over.

In its place, a new generation of services is starting to take hold—services like Twitter and Facebook and countless others vying for a piece of the new world. And just as email did more than a decade ago, this shift promises to profoundly rewrite the way we communicate—in ways we can only begin to imagine.

Rather than being marginalized or eliminated I believe email is more analogous to radio, which at one time made room for movies that in turn made room for TV, and so on. I do use Twitter and Facebook to communicate in cases where once I would have used email. But the volume and frequency of email has not stopped or been supplanted by these sites. And Google Wave will need to incorporate email if it hopes to go mainstream, even though it offers much more functionality than conventional email.

Email is clearly evolving alongside these other communication platforms. IM didn’t kill email, although it’s used by younger people than email. In face IM has had to get used to Facebook.

I think we’re seeing a proliferation of tools that make online (and mobile) communication more fragmented and maybe segmented: I communicate with certain people via LinkedIn and others via Twitter or Facebook; still others with IM and yet another group with SMS. Email, however, is the lone platform that everyone is on. It is the “core” or standard communication vehicle that we all use — and likely will continue to use for some time. (There’s also the issue of attachments and other very functional uses of email.)

Someone will eventually build an integrated communications platform — having been discussed for many years — that allows one interface to receive messages from multiple inputs and is smart about the outbound methods it uses. Motorola’s “MotoBLUR” social software on its Cliq Android device points in this direction.

For now we just get more work and more information madness to enjoy. The PC and Internet were supposed to bring about the end of paper, the “paperless office.” Sure, paper has been diminished somewhat but there’s still paper everywhere. The same will be true for email.

Similarly, once upon a time, “computers” were supposed to create more leisure by enabling greater productivity. That now seems like an incredibly naive thought. The unintended consequence was, instead, the creation of cultural and institutional expectations of more productivity and more work — in the same amount of time. So much for promises.


13 Responses to “The End of Email? Not Likely”

  1. Tim Cohn Says:

    An acquaintance of mine who worked for Crown Zellerbach said the “paperless office” was the best thing that ever happened to his business.

    The only way email will lose its position and role in society is if it gets taxed.

  2. Mike Says:

    Hmmmm…… I dont know why however I think I like having email. It would certainly take some time to prove out your theory….. I suppose it could happen.

  3. Greg Sterling Says:

    Tim: agree

  4. Tim Cohn Says:

    Well either the Wall Street Journal knows something we don’t or their writers have had too much Kool Aid.

  5. Mikeok Says:

    Email comes back to life after eliminating spam. With spam being over 95% of email traffic, email is a degrogated service. Even in it’s current state, we still find it useful.

    Can you image using a search engine that was 95% spam?

    I wonder how much a solution to email spam is worth? Who would you talk to if you had the answer?

  6. Greg Sterling Says:

    You’d have to talk to G, Y, M or another online email vendor.

  7. Cameron Nouri Says:

    It’s hard to believe that the WSJ is now trying to make the case that e-mail is dead. Nothing could be further from the truth. According to Forrester Research email usage has actually been increasing over the past few years.

    Check out this post we put together to help answer this question — Is Email Dead?

  8. MetroplexInteractive Says:

    Email is going to go away anytime soon but this article highlights the unavoidable fact that social media is quickly replacing traditional (er, electronic) forms of communication. Social networking, SMS, MMS, tweets and the like have the advantage of immediacy in an easily absorbable form which is why so many have adopted them as their preferred method of communication – after all, we live in a sound bite world don’t we? I predict that these new forms of communication will continue to become more unified such that in the future there may not be a distinction between SMS and MMS, then text and social posts.

  9. Nope, this is not the end of the email era « Bloggin' with Silentale Says:

    […] they want to use. In the abundance of accounts and profiles, email will probably remain a “core or standard communication vehicule“. Think about it: even if students gave up email for communicating with their peers, they […]

  10. Rich Watson Says:

    I absolutely agree that the way we communicate is changing. To say email is going to be “replaced” is a stretch, but certainly email-type of communication has already evolved to include more modes (IM, interactive, collaboration).

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  12. mike lee Says:

    How can they believe that e-mail is dead. lol its the biggest gateway of the world.

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