Email still matters (sorry)


More and more, I have been hearing that email is dead.  Everyone’s all-a-twitter (no pun intended), about how Facebook has ‘officially’ killed email.  Well Pine (see above), might not be around anymore, but I humbly disagree that email is dead. Although there are new forms of communication and, undoubtedly, the usage of email is affected, the current feature-sets of social networking messaging applications have yet to catch up with the most basic features users demand for constructive collaboration.

With over 225MM users, Facebook has reached ‘Google’ status.  Unless they do something monumentally stupid, they are going to be part of the elite hitter crew (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, FIM, AOL) for years to come.  Moreover, Nielson has shown that Social Network usage has now officially outpaced email.  With Facebook being the leading platform in the space, many logical people who like predicting things with charts have concluded that email is dead.  Well it must be true – the chart says so, right?

F’k the chart and just think about it.  Do you do most of your work communication through Facebook?  No.  You want to know why?  There is no comparison between the Facebook messaging app in a head-to-head evaluation against an alternative client, like Gmail or Outlook, there is no comparison.  Am I talking about technie, geeky fun stuff?  No, I am talking about the basics!

1. Sort (date, attachment, person)

2. Forward and adding new folks to a thread

3. Search

4. Import/Export (files, contacts, messages, data)

5. Send a note to someone outside of Facebook!

This complete disparity in feature/function presents an interesting opportunity and challenge for the online communications ecosystem. How will the gap between the great control in email clients and the powerful social graph contact management in Facebook get filled?

1. Will the email guys smarten up and enable their users to communicate via Facebook?

2. Will Facebook improve their native messaging application?

3. Or, will some 3rd party social client like Seesmic jump in with something?

This is not only an opportunity, but also a reminder to keep your hat on.  Applications that leverage social context ARE the future.  Will ‘e-mail’ in terms of the current SMTP world be replaced?  Probably.  Will the next generation communication platform look more like email then social networking?  Maybe.  But there are two things that are undoubtedly true.  Neither is going to win over night. The market size for email marketing alone is estimated to be roughly $1.1B in 2010. And second, there are big gaps in both approaches to communicating.

hoomanradfar Written by:

  • http://thefloggingwillcontinue.com/ Daniel James

    Oh, Pine's definitely still around — I use it every day! My colleagues call it 'Cave Mail' and it's certainly a little crusty, but it's highly functional. Alpine, the new version, is even slightly better and continues to be improved.

  • http://www.clearspring.com Hooman Radfar

    HA! That's so cool. Thanks for that comment Daniel – made my day. I used pine all the way through grad school.

  • Rahf

    fun read… and I agree.

    Actually, I think email has reached the status of telephone, where improvements might be made (mobile, bluetooth, etc) but it will never be replaced entirely.

  • http://www.clearspring.com Hooman Radfar

    Thanks Rahf!