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Mark Zuckerberg said earlier this month that the company wasn’t building a rumored web-based e-mail client. He said he favored products around short-form communications.

Statistics on teenage social networking use may be a good reason why.

The company’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said that based on the latest figures, teenagers are using e-mail less and less and that e-mail may even be on its way out.

Sandberg spoke at the Nielsen Consumer 360 conference yesterday:

“I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but in consumer technology, if you want to know what people like us will do tomorrow, you look at what teenagers are doing today. And the latest figures say that only 11 percent of teenagers e-mail daily. So e-mail — I can’t imagine life without it — is probably going away. So what do teenagers do? They SMS and increasingly, they use social networking.”

The Pew Internet & American Life project found that 54 percent of teens used SMS on a daily basis to socialize with friends. Behind that was making or receiving mobile voice calls at 38 percent, then interacting with friends face-to-face at 33 percent. After that, 30 percent of teens talked to each other on a landline phone every day. A quarter of teens used social networking sites daily to reach their friends. Least popular was e-mail, which as Sandberg said, is used by only 11 percent of teens every day to reach friends.

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