Email is a dead technological enterprise. That’s the word on the street. That is, if the street is a social network, and the word is that of a street hustler paid to nudge people toward only newer communicative technologies.
The truth is many businesses still rely on good old-fashioned Microsoft Outlook, which is why Microsoft released a webmail edition of the program at Outlook.com. For email doomsayers, the sheer number of users who flocked to Outlook.com must have looked like a rapture of sorts. According to Microsoft, 60 millions users signed up in six months of limited preview, before the site was even launched widely to the public, and, by June 2013, it was the fouth most popular email client, indicating even new email systems had a place in the market. While the nature of email may be changing, if email is dead, it’s a zombie, because it’s certainly still sucking in humans.
Email is still a force within popular social networks. Facebook lets users go crazy, sending messages as long as they fancy, complete with photo and file attachments even, so long as a user doesn’t exceed his or her inbox capacity. Even Twitter provides a personal messaging system that is email-esque if users can compress their thoughts into 140 characters.
Facebook is cliquey, though. It totes won’t let you talk to someone who isn’t your friend without relegating to the “Other” folder of a user’s profile, which is kind of like the reject table of a high school lunchroom. And, while one could certainly add everyone with whom they need to communication, most people don’t want their colleagues knowing they spend Friday nights cow-tipping just so their emails will make it to the cool kids’ table.
And, while Twitter direct messaging may be great for a blip memo, 140 characters and no attachment capabilities don’t allow for literary greatness.
Email as a niche
Let’s face it, these days not everyone needs email. Though it’s been the go-to of virtual communication since the dawn of the computer age, it’s kind of a relic. Businesses and freelancers who want to keep virtual communications professional, however, should cling to the relic. It’s kind of like an old dress. It’s best to hold onto it until you have a new one, or you’ll just be naked.
Does everybody need email? Of course not, and that’s why email’s immediate future is likely as a niche of the corporate world. Since the corporate world tends to be slow in adopting change, though, that niche could hold out for a while.
Beyond the niche
Virtualization is becoming an unstoppable trend in business. If you haven’t heard of the cloud, consider yourself blessed, because it is EVERYWHERE these days. If you have heard about it, you know that businesses across the board from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies are abandoning on-site technology in favor of virtual online services. Some software companies, such as Adobe, have even announced that they will be making no new software and providing their products only through virtual services.
As business applications continue to get the virtual treatment, and companies continue to move their operations from on-site hardware and software to virtual services, it’s highly likely email will go the same way. This is nothing new to consumers.
Now, for your moment of paranoia. Even if you don’t what the cloud is, chances are, you are already trapped inside it. Email systems, like Gmail and Yahoo!Mail, are cloud-based, which means you may have been a cloud captive for years without knowing it. For those still clinging to on-site email programs, which has to include a substantial number of businesses since Desktop Outlook is still the second most popular email client, a shift toward virtual email storage can be expected.
Look for Outlook.com to overtake Outlook in the near future.
The nature of email has changed from primary online communication center to the fringe of virtual communications, but that doesn’t make it obsolete. With texting and social networking apps, the nature of the phone has also changed, but that doesn’t mean people don’t occasionally remember their smart phones have a voice feature when they want to hear someone’s voice.