Recently, I’ve noticed the chorus of companies promising to “kill email” and have been unsuccessful. There’s software for teams to collaborate when they don’t work in the same building, and other services for companies that want to just use things like instant messaging to communicate internally. As I watch all this happen I shake my head in disbelief because let’s be honest — email will never die.
As an example, I’ll reference a Forbes article I read the other day about Kato.im, launched to help dispersed teams collaborate. Throughout the article there was a common theme: email is dying. Dead. Gone.
Founder Andrei Soroker claimed, “In almost all new startups, email has been displaced — and dramatically so — as a means of internal communication. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a startup coming out of an accelerator in 2014 that uses email for team collaboration.”
WHAT?! Sorry, Andrei. You’re just straight up wrong.
Why? For countless reasons … though I’ll just highlight the most important.
Email is an open standard
It’s independent of underlying implementation or adoption and is universally accessible to anyone in the world. It is a (while admittedly clunky) highly evolved experience; contributions and collaboration from thousands of companies and individuals have evolved email for decades. The specification is managed by the IETF, which is THE foundation for the world’s communication needs. The world. Where customers and partners and investors and others outside a startup team live and work.
Think how ridiculous it would be for companies to say, “the Web needs to die and be replaced.” It’s insane, irresponsible, widely inaccurate, and disingenuous. It would be like saying let’s replace HTTP with DCOM. And many years ago I was able to witness this insanity first hand.
The Web is addicted
Every service on the web has some dependency on email — whether it involves a sign-up form, customer service, or customer engagement. It’s the only system in the world where a user can send a message regardless of infrastructure. Here are some stats that prove how vital email is to us:
- There are more than 4 billion email addresses in the world.
- The human race generates 166 billion email messages every single day.
- Even the major social networks – Facebook, LinkedIn – generate over 1 billion emails per day to communicate with customers.
Email is private. It’s your data and your information. You decide where to host your email on whatever infrastructure meets your needs. You can have several email addresses for each role in your life – for work, for family, for collecting the emails from advertisers and marketer. You can even choose to use a free email provider that swaps your privacy for ads.
And admittedly, email can be a huge annoyance, which is part of why everyone keeps trying to kill it — especially now that more than half of our email is read on the phone, and email as it exists on the desktop doesn’t play as nice there.
The email “killers”
It seems like there’s a new one every week claiming to do the same thing. Eliminate email. Some are startups, but there are a lot of big organizations building collaboration tools that insist to be the next best thing. One that comes to mind is Salesforce, which is trying to replace email with Chatter. Or what about IBM thinking Notes would take off – IBM what? Exactly. And then there’s Asana attempting to remove email entirely.
Not too long ago I read about a tech firm in France that implemented a “zero email” policy among employees. I found this ironic because the company still allows its employees to send emails to clients and partners. So really, email IS the best (and most preferred) way to communicate so it can’t really be banned, can it?
Instead of blaming open standards and protocols for inefficient customer experiences, let’s focus on improving the customer experience around email on mobile devices today and across all your devices in the future.
Long live email.
Gordon Mangione is CEO of Tipbit and a baseball fanatic with 25 years of experience in the software business. He founded Tipbit back in 2011 in order to drastically change the way we email from our mobile devices. Before that, he was vice president at Microsoft, XenSource, and Citrix, and grew the Exchange and SQL Server businesses to greater than $1 billion.