Email is far from dead; 'no viable replacement' in sight

Email is far from dead; 'no viable replacement' in sight

Summary: Email is not dead, and will not die out any time soon. Most visitors of Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! go straight to email, and even social networking cannot fully compete.


New statistics shed light on the vast importance Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! place on their web-based email services.

Though email is effectively a prehistoric web service, dating back to the launch of the Internet, it maintains its dominance as the most effective communications method we have still today.

Email isn't dead, nor is it 'on its way out'.

Regardless of the 'Facebook effect' and other growing social networks and instant messaging services have on the younger Generation Y, there is no viable replacement in sight.

The figures show that just over 23% of Google visitors visit Gmail, with nearly 40% of Windows Live users going straight to Hotmail, and just under 20% of Yahoo! visitors going to Yahoo! Mail.

Though Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! each has fewer users on their email services than Facebook has, email provides not just a communications platform, but an identity for other social web services. Facebook heavily relies on email to function and perform.

This may not surprise many, as email is the cornerstone of the services provided by these companies, with often only search coming first.

Email is still evolving and is a fluid and dynamic platform. And while spam may be annoying, web services have spent years blotting out the issue, with spam levels dropping significantly in the previous two quarters.

Instant messaging and social networking only offers a strain of what email can provide. Though it may be the primary choice for younger people to engage in with their social lives, in business and the workplace email will still reign as the dominant choice for industry.

Although the Generation Y may find email to be 'unfashionable' and 'outdated' compared to Facebook and instant messaging applications on their smartphones, the very vast majority of smartphone users will have an email account attached to their phone regardless.

While Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! have no interest in losing their hundreds of millions of users overnight, their email service will continue -- and continue to grow, as more take advantage of the now standard features beyond the realms of simply sending and receiving messages.

Related content:

Topics: Social Enterprise, Collaboration, Google, Microsoft, Security

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  • Is email dead?

    Do you use email more than social networking, or would you be happy to switch off your email account (or Facebook account) for good? Which email services do you use, and why? <b>Have your say.</b>
    • RE: Email is far from dead; 'no viable replacement' in sight


      I use email to communicate more than I use facebook to communicate. As far as time spent using one or the other, it's probably facebook, unless you count time that I have my email client open as email time...

      I use gmail for my personal email (plus a couple of personal domains with email hosted with Google Apps), and a Google Apps hosted email account at work. I use gmail because of how great Google's search is. Finding old email is really easy... I just type in what I'm looking for and I find it in my email. No other mail client's search tool matches google. The other reason is I never have to delete email, never have to worry about copying email between computers, syncing my phone, or anything like that.
    • RE: Email is far from dead; 'no viable replacement' in sight

      If Facebook vanished tomorrow, I would hardly notice.

      If my email account vanished, I'd be in a world of hurt.

      I'm 28 years old. I think that makes me "Generation Y," right?
      • Here! Here!

    • RE: Email is far from dead; 'no viable replacement' in sight


      I've been on facebook for 2 or 3 years now. At the beginning, I couldn't get enough. Now, I might log on once a week, if that much. If fb disappeared, it'd take about a week before I noticed and I wouldn't really care.

      As for e-mail, I've been using some form of e-mail since 1988 (fido-net, bitnet, CompuServe, then finally internet e-mail), have multiple domains, used to run my own e-mail servers, but moved them all to Google hosted domains, have multiple e-mail accounts, and check my primary account multiple times a day. It is central to my communication. Everyone has an e-mail address. Not everyone is on fb (in fact, to create a fb account, you have to have an e-mail address!). If Google pisses me off, I can move my e-mail account to another hoster or host it myself. I can't do that with fb. I'm not in control of my fb account, Zuckerberg is, AND Zuckerberg can yank my fb account if he doesn't like what I say. That will never happen with my e-mail accounts because I own them, domains and all. The worst that can happen with my e-mail is Google can kick me off their servers, at which point, I'd just host it myself on my own server(s).

      As for Twitter? I logged on once and created an account and sent one tweet... a year ago. Haven't touched it since, don't anticipate ever using it again. I've only been on the site a couple times and the first time was a year ago. The last time was probably 6 months ago... I see absolutely no use for Twitter at all.

      Texting... I hate it. It's limited, not everyone has it, it might cost you tons just to enable it, and tons more if you're charged by the text, and it's pointless to be charged for it since it's piggybacked on the carriers signal. I've disabled it and blocked it on my phone. I installed Google Voice on my phone, which provides FREE, unlimied texting, of which I never use except for one of my friends who loves to text rather than call. If I need you right away, I'll call you. If not, I'll e-mail you.

      I'm a Gen X'er, a gadget enthusiast, and a programmer... the type of person that rakes in the new tech and uses the hell out of it and even creates some of it, being a developer. Not everything that's "new" is "better". Change for the sake of change is pointless. That's not to say that e-mail is perfect... it's not, not by a long shot... needs serious improvement, especially in the way of security and spam prevention, but for a universal, personal communication tool, the only thing that even holds a candle is the age old telephone. Pick it up, dial a number, talk to just about anyone in the world, instantly. So far, there's no other tech that can do that. E-Mail, while not "live", is instant in transmission, fairly reliable these days, and everyone has it.

      E-Mail is here to stay and is by far, my preferred method of communication.
      Software Architect 1982
  • Dead On

    Snail mail isn't dead, either. I bought a car the other day, and guess how they're going to send me the title...
    • RE: Email is far from dead; 'no viable replacement' in sight

      @WebSiteManager Yeah, the legality of sending legal documents via email is still an open question. It's also why the fax machine hasn't quite died yet.
  • Two different things

    Social networking tools tend to be concise and timely with a well-defined group of individuals, say immediate family. email tends to be verbose and asynchronous with people of varying degrees of social connectivity. Email is not dead, it is just one more tool.
    Your Non Advocate
  • Facebook is 100% personal communications.

    And has little place in the professional world so far.
    • RE: Email is far from dead; 'no viable replacement' in sight

      @Bruizer I would disagree. It's about using it properly -- many young people within the workplace still use it to communicate with each other. Just look at young entrepreneurs and start-ups without the money or funding to set up their own communications systems. Facebook is wonderfully dynamic -- so it can be used for good. (See previous articles).
      • How many startups vs established companies?

        And what kind of secrets do you want to share with your competitors via open forums and what not?
        Will Pharaoh
      • RE: Email is far from dead; 'no viable replacement' in sight

        @zwhittaker Facebook's for marketing communication... I don't really think it's a viable longterm solution for internal communication for a variety of reasons:

        1. You cannot migrate your messages off of facebook to another email provider easily.
        2. You can't use PGP with facebook to encrypt your messages.
        3. When you email someone from another company from facebook with an email address, it exposes you for the amature that you are.
        4. Google apps is free for the first 10 users. That includes docs, email (7 gigs of space), chat, talk, etc... For the cost of a domain name, you can look like a professional and have an infinitely better collaboration and communication tool.
    • RE: Email is far from dead; 'no viable replacement' in sight

      @Bruizer On the contrary Facebook is a valuable too for diseminating information to your customers and suppliers.
      Your Non Advocate
      • RE: Email is far from dead; 'no viable replacement' in sight


        So how does that make it different than forums on a company's web site? And there is a vast difference between pushing public knowledge out via FB and actually conducting business through it. Do you really think a supplier is going to send an invoice via FB?
      • RE: Email is far from dead; 'no viable replacement' in sight

        @facebook@... Facebook's good for all of two business purposes... Networking with people you know, and public announcements. Based on how questionable facebook's privacy is, the fact that you can't migrate your messages easily, you can't encrypt your messages, and how unprofessional it would look to send business emails through facebook it's not really useful for anything else.
      • Discounting the 100% personal argument


        How does that differ between a company's website? Well, for one thing, the potential audience is a half a billion people on Facebook. Very few organizations have that reach with their plone portal.

        Do I really think a supplier is going to send an invoice via facebook? It would not surprise me if there was not already a facebook app just for that.
        Your Non Advocate
        • YMMV


          No, you use facebook for two business purposes. I use facebook for a variety of business reasons. Here is a simple example of document sharing and collaborative editing
          Your Non Advocate
      • RE: Email is far from dead; 'no viable replacement' in sight

        @facebook@... I'd say that unless there's a compelling reason to use a facebook app over any other version of the same app or app that does the same, I wouldn't. Another reason, other than what I outlined, being that facebook profiles are personal and you can't really terminate someone's facebook profile when you terminate them.

        I use google docs to collaborate through google apps accounts. We can terminate those at will.
      • RE: Email is far from dead; 'no viable replacement' in sight


        OK, you are thinking of "business" in the parochial sense. I take a broader approach to "business".

        I can network with my peers in much the same way that I can network with my peers at conferences and professional organizations.

        I can market my service to over a half a billion people in an affordable and real time manner.

        I can share information --- not just within my gated community, but with my suppliers and my customers.

        Again, Facebook is as valuable as a business tool as you wish it to be. You can take the perimeter approach to your network or you can engage in web 2.0 technologies to expand your reach to both customers and suppliers. The choice is yours.
        Your Non Advocate
  • RE: Email is far from dead; 'no viable replacement' in sight

    Why is it that we think email needs to die? Most people I know use email many times per day regardlees of age. I think email will be around for a long time. It is a great communication tool.