Photo: Illustration: Ellis Hamburger
I realise that all the cool kids think “email is dead” and that it’s all about Facebook and Twitter and texting now.And I realise that, for the cool kids–emphasis on kids–that may well be true.
But here’s the thing.
We uncool adults still use email.
We uncool adults still use email so much, in fact, that we spend hours and hours managing our email every day, despite the fact that a lot of us also use Facebook and Twitter and other cooler communications tools.
And this thing where I get a message from someone through Facebook via my email–but can’t respond to it without going into Facebook–is really annoying.
And here’s another thing.
I am not going to give up email.
And neither is any professional adult, no matter how cool he or she wishes she were.
Because email is extraordinarily useful, in ways that Facebook messaging and status updates are not. (Don’t get me wrong–messaging is useful, too. I use IM and Twitter all day, and I occasionally even message through Facebook. But none of these things is remotely beginning to replace email.)
Email is more formal.Email creates a more easily searchable and archivable record.
Email is much more convenient when communicating with multiple people.
Email allows formatting, etc.
I’m never going to give up email.
So your refusal to build a good email system means that I am going to spend a lot less time with your service than I would spend if you were to build one.
And it means that I will be spending a lot more time with your competitors’ services–namely, Apple and Google. Because they offer email.
And it also means that I will always keep my address book and calendar with Apple and Google, too, because it’s easier to keep those tools in the same system in which I also do email.
So that’s a lot of hooks into me and my time that you are letting your competitors have instead of having them into me yourself.
And that just seems silly.
Why wouldn’t you build an email system?
Why wouldn’t you make it easier for me to build my whole digital life around your platform?
Again, I realise that email isn’t cool. But it’s necessary. And useful. And it’s not going anywhere.
UPDATE: BI editor Nicholas Carlson reminds me that Facebook has actually introduced a quasi-email-like system that combines messaging with the ability to send and receive emails. Here are some screenshots of it. Facebook launched that a year and a half ago… and I have never seen a “[email protected]” email address. I also have never heard of anyone using this system as their primary email box, perhaps because Facebook doesn’t facilitate universal inbox usage through POP-forwarding, etc. (Do they? I don’t even know). And so now the question seems even more valid. Why doesn’t Facebook just take that one additional step and make this a full-fledged email inbox? They can keep all the other stuff–the messaging, the links to News Feed, etc. But why do all this and not just go all the way?