5 Reasons Email Will Become Obsolete


It’s only a matter of time.

Move on - there's nothing to see here!

Move on - there's nothing to see here!

The inbox – and email – are already beginning to fade into obsolesce.  And within the next decade email may join the Bali Tiger and the King Island Emu on the extinction list.

Forrester Research last week released a report that outlines a big reason why.  By 2014, companies will be spending $2 billion a year to send the average person more than 9,000 marketing emails.  That’s 25 emails per day – just from marketers.

And this doesn’t even include unwanted and malicious spam.  Google has estimated that an unprotected inbox in 2008 would have received more than 45,000 unwanted emails – about 123 spam messages a day.  The only good news is that by 2014 most people will have probably abandoned their inboxes.  Or at least have been forced to add so many spam filters that only select groups of associates and friends will be allowed to send them email.

The fact is: email has already become difficult to manage.

Here are five reasons why more people will begin to migrate away from email and the concept of an inbox.

1. There’s not a lot of hard data to back it up, but the average worker is now said to change jobs 14-21 times in their lifetime.  That’s a lot of movement – and a lot of new email addresses.  Trying to reach colleagues (and former colleagues) through email addresses is proving to be a difficult challenge.  So why bother trying to keep up?  Isn’t it easier just to find them on LinkedIn or Facebook?  Those are permanent addresses for them – and those sites contain the most update information for reaching them.

2. Spam filters are losing the battle against unwanted emails.  In order to win the fight, filters are forced to use stricter protocols – which then mistakenly capture email that you want to get.  Trying to wade through and sort unwanted emails – especially if you are using a mobile device – wastes precious time.  As spam increases, our tolerance for it decreases and eventually email users will begin to move more quickly to better communication solutions.

3. Closed systems like Facebook and LinkedIn offer multiple ways to communicate.  Facebook gives users an opportunity to reach out through wall messages, a hosted inbox and a chat function.  Facebook also allows users to know if their colleague or friend is currently using the application (an easy way to tell if they are in).  It is also a spam free environment (so far!).

4. The increase in the proliferation of mobile phones – nearly one billion sold every year – make it much easier to reach people through a quick call than through email.  But mobile phones in the hands of every corporate worker also makes it simple to send text messages.  There is a whole generation of teenagers that will soon be entering the workforce that have grown up communicating almost exclusively through SMS rather than email.

5. Cloud computing – storing valuable data and applications in a hosted environment – is already creating virtual offices on protected tracts of the internet.  Communicating and sharing in a centralized location is faster, more efficient and safer than constantly “sending” each other messages, documents and information.  Email messages can be intercepted and email still remains the most dangerous access point for viruses and malicious software.

What about you?  How much are you relying on your inbox for communicating with colleagues and friends?  Do more of your communications now take place on social networking sites?

21 Responses to “5 Reasons Email Will Become Obsolete”

  1. I’m sorry but I disagree for the simple reason that
    e-mail is much safer than networking sites.

  2. Hi Pochp:
    There’s nothing to be sorry about. Can you be more specific? Safer how? I wouldn’t recommend storing valuable documents outside of the network – but many companies are now storing and archiving documents in the cloud. Email, in fact, isn’t safe for sending documents – unless you use encryption services. I also believe that general correspondence is perfect for a networking site.

  3. So with large scale enterprise Marketing and Sales operations, leads are king. Typically retrieving mobile numbers is done through a personal interaction, like a phone call. So is the future of email marketing actually text-marketing? Or social media marketing? Neither really seems like they’d replace email.

  4. I read this as the mail carrier left my doorstep. First faxing, then FedEX, then email was going to get rid of “regular” mail and while there is an enormous dent it in, it’s still here. Perhaps email will shrivel faster because of “internet” time, but it’s still so much easier to say, “Hmm, no I didn’t get your email! Could you resend it?” Nothing keeps stuff around longer than the potential for the dog ate my homework explanations.

  5. Hi Tom:
    Personal interactions aren’t going anywhere – but using email to directly contact people right now isn’t as effective as using social media channels – such as Facebook and Twitter (if both parties are connected on them). Keep in mind email is actually pretty new – so why would you think it is going to end up being permanent? Look what happened to the fax machine. Hell, look at what’s happening to newspapers!

    Hi Mal:
    Now that made me laugh!

  6. Okay, I’m doing all my communication via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Without an email address how does one join these sites? Need the verification email, right?

    Adapt or die: Why get rid of email instead of adapt? It would take the emu eons to change its genetics but we can change software overnight to adapt if necessary.

    We were bombarded with ads on TV so we got TiVo and forward through the ads – adaptation in action.

    Social networks will be incredibly valuable but will not kill email.

  7. gfs- You’re probably right about it becoming obsolete but I hope not.
    E-mail is much more controllable than social media- therefore safer.

  8. George, I was just able to comment here with my email :) I know, I know… there is Facebook, Twitter, etc. Connect as well. Just making a similar point as Jeremy up there.

    What I love about email is that is it correspondence. Period. Sure, we share things – documents, pictures, videos and more via our social networks, cloud computing (although that’s still just beginning to develop and catch on) – but the essence of email is still correspondence to me. Correspondence that I can (using Gmail) label, archive, put into folders, prioritize.

    I do think Google Wave is onto something huge that is along the lines of what you blog about here. But I don’t think we’re there yet, at all.

    – Andi

  9. Hi Jeremy:
    Registering is hardly a block for the end of email. It is used because it is the standard. SM sites could easily switch to Google profiles or another verification service.

    Keep in mind I’m not talking about “now” – but looking forward. Email is today’s standard. I don’t think it will be in 5-10 years.

    Hi Andi:
    I don’t look at email as correspondence. I see it as data exchange – a valuable tool to send attachments and other files. I do more corresponding through other channels. But we all develop our own customized ways of communicating.

  10. if u ask me ,i tnk it already is …. (use 2 not b;mayb ther all goin 2 d prisoners/convicted felons ,hu i hear all tym getting marriage proposals),but now my inbox is 0 ‘literally’ ;

  11. 4 years later, email is becoming less and less valid

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Collective Connective – It’s Time for Small Biz to Face Up to Social Media « small Biz Big time - July 16, 2009

    […] your communication methods. Word in the world of online trend-tracking keeps buzzing about the fact that traditional email is fading in importance.  Messaging through Web 2.0 technology/social networks is on the rise, and with the launch of […]

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