Is Email a Relic of the Past?

15 Nov

72794_10150101074706729_20531316728_7115672_7997949_nCall it a sign of the times, but we’re about to embark on a debate about the future of email.

If you missed it, Facebook declared email too big, too slow and too antiquated to survive. In its place Facebook will rollout a new “modern messaging system” that will combines emails, instant messages, text messaging and telepathic thought. (Okay, they haven’t announced that last piece, but you never know.)

Now odds are that if you’re over the age of 35 you didn’t realize that email was on its last legs. It’s quite possible you’re still happy with one email address, a mobile phone number and a Facebook profile. You might even be getting by with an address. (If so, you might be my father. But I suppose there are still others out there.)

If, however, you’re under 30, it is quite likely that you have already moved beyond email.Facebook wunderkind Mark Zuckerberg insists that’s what he and his engineers discovered talking to high schoolers over the last year. Email is just to “formal,” Zuckerberg says the teens told him.

Just imagine what they would think about real writing on real paper, sent by envelope with a postage stamp. Nonetheless, I don’t doubt this is true. At least twice a week I’ll ask my kids if they got an email I sent them. Only to be reminded they don’t check their email very often. But, when I send a message on Facebook the response is rapid. If you post a message on their wall, particularly embarrassing questions, the response is near light-speed.

The new Facebook Messages system promises to bring all the communication into one, easy to access location. The result, they promise, is that no one has to worry about how they send the message. In fact, Zuckerberg said during his presentation that future generations won’t have to even think about how best to reach someone.

I’m intensely jealous of the next generation who will have something like Facebook for their whole lives. They will have the conversational history with the people in their lives all the way back to the beginning: From “hey nice to meet you” to “do you want to get coffee sometime” to “our kids have soccer practice at 6 pm tonight.” That’s a really cool idea.

So you can be certain email marketers everywhere are sitting up and taking notice of Facebook’s latest innovations. While no one is expecting the ubiquitous to go away soon, the clock is ticking. And there are billions of dollars tied to its continued longevity, or figuring out how to move forward with whatever is next.

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