Email dying a slow death at the hand of Social Networks?
SAN FRANCISCO–The future of e-mail might be found on the pages of MySpace.com and Facebook. Just ask a group of teen Internet entrepreneurs, who readily admit that traditional e-mail’s more suited for keeping up professional relationships or communicating with adults.”I only use e-mail for my business and to get sponsors,” Martina Butler, the host of the teen podcast Emo Girl Talk, said during a panel discussion here at the Mashup 2007 conference, which is focused on the technology generation. With friends, Bulter said she only sends notes via a social network.“Sometimes I say I e-mailed you, but I mean I Myspace’d or Facebook’ed you,” she said.
To be sure, much has been written about the demise of e-mail, given the annoyance of spam and the rise of tools like instant messaging, voice over IP and text messaging. But e-mail has hung on to its utility in office environments and at home, even if it’s given up some ground to new challengers. It may be that social networks are the most potent new rival to e-mail, one of the Internet’s oldest forms of communication. With tens of millions of members on their respective networks, MySpace and Facebook can wield great influence over a generation living online, either through the cell phone or the Internet.
And if you’re among those who believe teens are the future, then e-mail could be knocked down a rung. For example, Craig Sherman, CEO of Gaia Online, a virtual world for teens and college kids, describes the age group as “the first and early adopters of new trends. Things they are doing are what everyone will be doing in five years.”
To hear the teen panelists tell it, that means e-mail will be strictly the domain of business dealings.
“If I’m talking to any friends it’s through a social network,” said Asheem Badshah, a teenaged president of Scriptovia.com, an essay-sharing site that launched this summer. “For me even IM died, and was replaced by text messaging. Facebook will replace e-mail for communicating with certain people.”
Almost on cue, a Microsoft executive sitting in the audience chimed in with a question to the teens, saying that given his work, he’s “interested in people not using e-mail.” He asked the panelists to comment about the fact that e-mail transmits to mobile devices, for example. Also, Facebook will send its members an e-mail anytime someone sends them a message on the social network.
Butler replied that she uses Facebook on her cell phone. “I need (Facebook) everywhere I go, but I log into e-mail only once a week,” she said.
More and more, social networks are playing a bigger role on the cell phone. In the last six to nine months, teens in the United States have taken to text messaging in numbers that rival usage in Europe and Asia. According to market research firm JupiterResearch, 80 percent of teens with cell phones regularly use text messaging.
Catherine Cook, the 17-year-old founder and president of MyYearbook.com, was the lone teen entrepreneur who said she still uses e-mail regularly to keep up with camp friends or business relationships. Still, that usage pales in comparison to her habit of text messaging. She said she sends a thousand text messages a month.
I hate getting email in my social network platforms (unless it’s a pleasant surprise from a Long lost friend). Why? Because there are too many barriers to quick retrieval. I want my email and I want it now. I have it popping up like texts on my phone. MUCH BETTER than having to log into facebook on my phone, or myspace, and link surfing to get to my embedded email.
I think email will stick around. People are lazy– it won’t be long before people get tired of the 3/4 door passage to the things they want (log into facebook, log into email, retrieve emails, open specific email). Unless they figure a way to make the barrier of entry immediate (or non existent). That could be the next step. Hmmm… could be indeed.
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