The Future of Email or Messaging or…

What Teens Think Will Happen to Email (Source: Social Mouths)

French company Atos became the latest tech player to declare the end of email, calling it pollution and banning it from its corporate walls. Tech bloggers bagged the move, but in reality, it’s an increasingly familiar proclamation. Basically, the tech industry wants to replace email with the next generation of messaging.

In the online world, we have seen this trend emerge several times. Most notably, the birth and death of Google Wave was the first big attempt to end email. Then there was the not so successful Facebook Messages/Messenger App.

Invariably, these solutions feature a variety of social media or instant messaging technologies. For example, Google’s integration of undelivered Gmail chat messages into Gmail. Facebook’s Messages does the same thing with chat. It can also integrate text messaging. File sharing and workplace solutions like Dropbox and Basecamp still use email to notify users.

None of these solutions have completely replaced an email address, which has the primary feature of a name and a URL, providing routing on the Internet. And none of them replace the core peer-to-peer or peer-to-a few peers communication that made email so popular in the 90s.

Email is just another delivery method. You can shoot the messenger, but…

Can Tech Eliminate Spamming?

At the heart of this debate is ridding the in-box of trash, spam and other useless email, e.g. weeding out marketing messages. In the case of the workplace, employers are also trying to weed out useless banter (forwarded jokes, etc.). So the target is really us, those marketers who engage in direct email marketing.

Obviously, this makes opt-in lists and great email content even more important. And as future technologies come into the fore and marketing becomes strictly permission based, these twin bills of direct success may no longer be optional for companies. Spam tolerance decreases with each new messaging technology.

Yet if the hybridization of messaging succeeds eliminating the IP address portion of a digital message, won’t marketers find a new way to get into the next generation in-box? Historically, spam and bad marketing transcends medium. We have certainly experienced that with social media.

What do you think? Will a next generation technology replace email? Will it eliminate spam?


  • I used to think email was getting towards the end of it’s long tail. I’m wrong. Of course, it, like everything else, will go the way of the dodo at some point. What will keep it around and relevant is the somewhat seamless integration between email and other various messaging platforms.
    So, email will be around for a long time. In other news: Spam will be around forever.

  • Email will get embedded in a “higher” form. This is why Google Plus will probably beat out Facebook since it can wrap social network services around the existing gmail platform nearly everyone uses. Bottom line is you still want people outside your network to be able to get in touch with you and gmail better positions Google for that than Facebook, unless Facebook buys Yahoo!… 

    • What is Yahoo?  Thanks for coming buy and adding that good insight. Gmail is certainly a competitive advantage for Plus, and Google is integrating it across the network.

  • If the main issue is spam then we’re talking helping people to better use email. Is that possible? Perhaps, in some cases. As a previous IT professional I tried very hard to not get people to email multi-hundred MB files to each other when we had a file server. That didn’t work out so well…

    I love email. I know how to create folders and send messages into them so that I can determine what gets my attention and when, rather than Google’s servers having to determine that for me.

    Anything that replaces email will, in my opinion, have to have the same level of functionality (formatted large message sending with attachments, replies, forwards). Google Wave was a step in that direction, but one reason I (and many others) love email is that it allows you to respond when you’re ready.

    Time wasted? Think of the amount of time that might be wasted if everyone is waiting for instant messages to appear after they’ve sent one.

    Oh wait, doesn’t that happen on social media? Perhaps not to everyone… :) But that’s also why we have phones.

    • I agree.  Nothing I have seen seems revolutionary, more like a consolidated messaging service.  I personally have found ways to manage email so it’s not a huge time suck. But then I don’t respond to everyone, so…

  • In many ways I think email is as essential to a business as paper can be. Many businesses are going paperless but no one can completely eliminate paper. I do not think email is going anywhere any time soon. I agree that something needs to be done about spam beyond some act of congress – something innovative and technical. But as I see it, email is alive and well and will continue to thrive for many business purposes.

  • Think John’s right, spam is here to stay. Whenever someone invents a better mousetrap/filter, someone else will just make a better mouse. For the time being we need an email address, just to get signed up for any social network, I don’t see email going away soon. For all the talk of doing away with snail mail, I still know people who are unconnected and like it that way; I prefer good, old-fashioned email for many things. Whatever tech that make morph w/ it or take its place, it’s going to have to do that job better, stronger, faster, easier, safer to get the adoption it needs. FWIW.

    • There has been a lot of talk about email simply being the professional mailing service. I agree with that.  It works for me.

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