I normally check my e-mail on Sundays. Sorry, Let me amend this sentence. I normally check my e-mail on Sundays to mostly delete lots of e-mails without even reading them. In my guestimate maybe i delete more than 90% of my e-mails.
This led me to think “”Is the e-mail dead or dying.?””
The Origin of E-Mail. Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith started Hotmail in 1996. Soon after, Yahoo Mail started in 1997. Later gmail became popular. E-mail quickly took over as a fast, easy and convenient method of communication. I am one of the early users of e-mail. Proof of that being that i do not need to use a . ( dot) or an _ ( underscore) or an year such as 2000 or 2016 etc with my name in my e-mail ID.
Increase in importance. E-mail quickly became an important part of day to day life and was extensively used for communication. Slowly, it’s importance increased more and more and it started replacing inland letters and postcards.
Why – Primarily because of faster and surer communication. It was also non-intrusive and extremely convenient. An e-mail will come and remain in your in-box and it is up to you to choose when to read it or not to read it.
Innovation . E-mail started being used in more and more innovative ways. Instead of writing a letter to a friend or relative in USA and it taking ages to reach, an e-mail can be sent which will be instantly delivered, read and replied back. Say, a birthday wish, or congratulations for a promotion, or best wishes for engagement or wedding. Earlier Cards used to be sent. But one is never sure if it is delivered or not. Hence e-mail cards and wishes were sent. Delivery guaranteed.
Increase in Business use. Thereafter from personal use came an important development and evolution in e-mail use. Business use increased. E-mail started being used for commercial communications. Business proposals were sent on e-mail as attachments. Reports to bosses were sent. Companies started doing e-mail marketing more aggressively. Businesses started tracking their customers and kept them informed. Marketing concepts like customer retention, new product development and more.
E-Mail helped all these tremendously.
New Social Media Innovations Linkedin Started in 2003. 13 years later, LinkedIn has 2 new customers/members every second. It has over 128 million members in USA and the country with second largest members is India ( 35 Million), where it is fast growing. Worldwide it has 450 million members.
Facebook which Started in 2004 presently has over 1.7 Billion active users. It has started the concept of Business pages and presently has over a million advertisers. USA has over 185 million FB members while the only other country with over 100 million members is India.
Twitter, an online social networking service which enables users to send short messages upto 140 characters, called tweets started in 2006. It currently has more than 500 milion users out of which 300 million are active users.
Whatsapp started in 2009. It too has taken the world by storm. The potential of whatsapp can be recognised with the staggering stats that FB acquired Whatsapp for 19 Billion $ even though the revenue generated by whatsapp was 10.2 Million $.
Why am i writing all this. Simply because these 4 are popular social media tools which in my opinion are posing an increasing threat to e-mail. Earlier we used to keep in touch with e-mail. Now we keep in touch through whatsapp and FB. In fact like inland letters and postcards were considered slow earlier, now sometimes e-mail is considered slow, when its more easy and faster to get in touch over whatsapp or FB.
There are other advantages too of social media. Say you want to organise an event. Organising it is easier and more efficient by forming a group in FB or whatsapp than by e-mailing repeatedly. In fact, let me share my own experience in this. 15 years back in our training batch of almost 200 officers we formed a yahoo e-group. 5 years back, we organised a batch get-together in which almost 60 officers participated and the primary method of communication was e-mail and of course SMS. Now, this year once again we organised a get-together and this time it was organised much more efficiently through whatsapp. In fact most of the officers said that they have not visited the yahoo e-group since ages. Some have even forgotten their passwords as they have shifted to g-mail. None of us could remember who the admin of the yahoo e-group was.
So Is the e-mail dead. I would still say NO. Yes, it needs improvements. Interestingly, the biggest threat to e-mail is e-mail. I read somewhere that in USA and India its legal to send e-mail till a customer opts out of it. Whereas in Europe a customer has to be asked whether he can be added to mailing list. If so maybe the European Model can be adopted.
To conclude, i would state that the business use of e-mail will always remain. In fact organisations now are having specific official e-mail ID’s where official mails are compulsorily required to be sent. ( on a lighter vein, Hilary Clinton i am sure now knows a lot about this ) The personal use of e-mail, though decreased will also remain. Response to a tweet, or a blog post, people will/may still prefer to be informed through e-mail. The growing use of e-mail on cell phone is ensuring its relevance too, as even deleting messages takes seconds. E-mail is also relevant and important as many personal messages are not suited to the public exposure of a social network. It offers privacy and space. It offers option to write peacefully and in detail, outlining the thoughts and reasons behind the message. Therefore, it will remain alive and healthy, but in a modified Way.
These are my random thoughts. Do u agree ?