Email to be extinct in 10 years? Eh, probably not.

by Mike
Posted November 18th, 2009 at 5:57 am


While looking forward to the future, it’s always fun to think about what is “hot” now and how it will undergo the usual tech transformation into old, outdated, and dead technology. The telephone used to be an amazing wonderment of scientific engineering. Now it’s nothing special. Much the same, email was at one point the pinnacle of technological achievement. Today everyone including their grandma and maybe even her dog have at least one email address. So what type of lifespan or useful timeline can we place on email?

10 more years is all we’ve got with the electronic mail service if TalkTalk’s claims are to be followed. 10 years. That isn’t very long from now at all. Look how far we’ve come sense the first email was sent way back in the 60’s. Email hasn’t changed really. It’s still a simple file transfer service. Can it really be going the way of the dodo in as little as 10 years? I doubt that. In fact I guarantee email will be around for decades to come. TalkTalk bases their response on how snail mail has become less valuable over time as well as taken into consideration the how quickly technology advances and that ever exciting technology doubling rule — technology doubles every 9 months. At that rate, will email really be extinct in as little as one decade?

TalkTalk’s accusation isn’t completely baseless, a researcher and social anthropologist from the University of Kent was the main motivator behind the claim. The researcher goes on to say that Britain is comprised of roughly 2 million “first lifers” — or those who have grown up using text messaging, IM, and other like technologies to communicate. These technologies are much faster than even email, the new digital form of snail mail. A full 51% of these full lifers aren’t using email for that reason. They see it as old, outdated technology.

I’m sure that email will pass into irrelevance just like any other technology has and inevitably always does. But email will be around for a long, long time. Certainly longer than 10 years at least. One perfect way to highlight this fact is to look at traditional paper based mail. Even with all of the digital communication methods we have currently, the original snail mail is still here with no signs of disappearing anytime soon. Similarly, email will stick around. Corporations and other entities needing to send large batches of files simply can’t do that via text message or IM service, at least not with the current IM technology. Encryption is way too low if any even exists on the platform and a slew of other factors will keep the newer, more “instant” digital communications from taking over in the near term. Though I have no doubt that it will come some day.

With all of that said, when do you think email will disappear or at least fade form the public’s eye? 2020? 2040? 3000? It will happen at some point.


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