EMail - Don’t Underestimate It


We all have a love/hate relationship with EMail. Go on. Admit it. We all want it to go away, but no matter how much we keep going on about how bad it is - we don’t disconnect. This is not to defend EMail. It does have serious problems. But if your car or phone has a problem - you fix it. You don’t just throw it away and / or stop using it. And you know that this isn’t the first time I have written about this.

Is EMail Broken was my first official post, back in August last year - even as I was getting into my stride on this blog. And then this one asking whether EMail is broken - and there is more….

I guess it started when I kept hearing the line that EMail is dead and broken - Social Media is the way. How people would say that the “First thing I do each day is ’check my linkedIN / Facebook / Twitter”  Facebook Messages is EMail by another name. And really - SMS / MMS - more messages that use a different protocol to reach you.

To remind you of this - before we go on … Sean Nicholson wrote back in 2011 that EMAIL was ten times the size of all social networks added together in terms of ‘message transport’.

Think about it, your email contacts are like your Facebook friends, LinkedIn contacts, and Twitter followers all rolled into one. And your inbox is more successful at managing text and multimedia better than the Facebook timeline, Twitter feed, RSS subscriptions and Google+ feed combined.

… trust me - it hasn’t got any better since then.

The fact is that at the end of the day - there are an increasing number of ways for people to reach other and communicate - and still the drum beats, email - gone - dead - exited - popped its clogs - gone to meet its maker …… so if that is

But there are now companies emerging that are building slick interfaces to the burgeoning problem of too many emails. Interesting apps like Triage allow you to rapidly scroll through and action emails on the fly, Inky is a new universal email manager for ALL of your email (how long before they add messanger, sms, voice mail into it. Remember Sparrow - it was going to be the salvation of email - and then Google bought them - notice how Google Mail is getting better ? How about Tempo - not exactly an email app - but its thinking has email at the core - just like  Asana - the todo app that utilizes email to manage your tasks.

And then there is RSS.

RSS is related - and I have been writing about that a lot recently aswell, this is my most recent. The fact is that everyone wants you to go to THEIR website. OK - but actually that is too hard. What I want is stuff to come to me - and then let me sort out what I want to attend to. A single universal inbox that I can utilize to sort out everything, including;

  • EMail
  • RSS
  • Voice Mail - POTS, Skype, iChat, et al
  • Messages / Messenger - the Apple / Blackberry proprietary device to device apps
  • Facebook Messages
  • SMS
  • MMs
  • and and and

… and I think we are getting closer. The power is with us - the consumer / customer / user …. as more and more solutions emerge.

Not only that - but the ISPs are getting better at trapping spam before it even reaches you - more and more your inbox contains what you have said you want. Dont want it ? Delete it - or unsubscribe. In other words we have sorted the back end - now we are moving back to the front.

As the filters get better - so will our experience - and I for one cant wait.

And yet …. there is already so much that we have at our disposal right now, almost certainly on your computer. Some examples;

  • Are you still using POP to access mail ? Do you know how to move to IMAP ? Do you know why you should ?
  • Are you using rules to manage your inbox flow ? Did you know you have got rules at all ?
  • How many email aliases do you use ?
  • How many different accounts do you use to sign up for ‘offers’ on web sites so they can’t repurpose the email address and use it for other reasons ?

And there - right there - is my worry.

Most people don’t even know what they have got. Be it email, word, a browser - people do not know how it all works. Here’s an interesting data point (sorry - I cant attribute this - or even confirm it is accurate - I tried but failed), still - how many features requested by microsoft word users are already available? I was told today 70%. Half that number and the result is just as mind boggling, and if I find the data - I will come back and adjust.

That means that a full one third of all requests for features to be added to MIcrosoft Word already exist - and this from a set of users who actually do know how to make that request. Once again - technology out there at the forefront - people rushing to try to catch up and complaining about things they just do not understand.

Sound familiar ?

April 29, 2013