co How Soon Will E-mail Die? |

A part of my business model is based on e-mail marketing. In fact, my e-mail newsletter is one of the most popular aspects of my business and drives a considerable amount of traffic to this blog.

So, when Frank Reed wrote a blog post about how e-mail is (or isn’t) dying, I just had to read it.

Buried in the middle of Frank’s blog post was this uncanny observation:

It’s pretty dangerous to be even considering this. Why? Because while these young people may not like e-mail they will still need to understand it and have the skills to manage it when they get to the ‘grown-up’ part of life with a, gulp, job.

This certainly does sound like wisdom, doesn’t it? But I have to take issue with the statement on one level (while agreeing with it on another).

First, how I agree. On the short term, Frank is right. Those twenty-somethings and teens who are now encapsulated by texting will some day be employed by a company that relies on e-mail for communicating interoffice. That is, within the next ten years those young pups will enter the “real world” where e-mail rules. Which brings me to my point of disagreement.

Technology changes over time. So does what is important. What about beyond ten years? Will e-mail be important forever? I doubt it.

Just think about all the developments that have occurred on the Internet within the last five to ten years: Facebook has risen to be the No. 1 social network, YouTube has emerged as the second most used search engine, and Twitter has become the mass communication tool of choice for countless celebrities from Oprah Winfrey to Ben Affleck. In fact, I’d say Twitter has revolutionized mass communication.

Really. That’s why there are so many clones (Tumblr, Jaiku, identi.ca, just to name a few).

Speaking of identi.ca, did you know that you can build your own Twitter-like communication tool using the same open source platform that identi.ca is powered by? It’s called StatusNet.

With the rise of cloud computing and instant mass communication, I believe e-mail may at some point in the not-too-distant future go by the wayside in lieu of something more along the lines of Twitter and identi.ca. Companies may decide to opt for an internal communication tool that allows individuals from various departments to communicate one-to-one and one-to-many behind the company firewall using a platform like these. If so, there’s nothing that says those messages must be limited to 140 characters – though, any company could feasibly have a micromessaging service as well as a macromessaging service that allows for extended character counts.

While I think Frank Reed’s points are well placed, I do believe it is conceivable that e-mail could be replaced by something else at some point in the future. But not today.