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article imageOp-Ed: Is email obsolete and outdated?

By Ajit Jha     Sep 15, 2012 in Internet
Internet space is increasingly turning into a turf where diverse activities compete for users’ attention. Email and social media have emerged as the two great contenders for our Internet time.
While social media has taken rapid strides in recent years, email activities continue to edge out social media.
According to Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, email and search remain the top online activities. According to this survey, 92 percent of American online adults use email and the same percentage of American online adults use search engines to find information on the Web while 61 and 59 percent respectively email or use search engines on a typical day.
The decade long Pew survey found the two behaviors consistently the two most popular since 2002 when eight in ten adults were using search engines and more than 9 were emailing.
In other words, almost everyone has been using email across gender, race, age, education, and household income. Among genders, females outstrip males marginally (93 percent female and 90 percent male) as users of email. While 93 percent white Americans use email, African Americans and Hispanics are not far behind with 87 and 88 percent respectively. Email is consistently popular across all age groups. While 87 percent of those over 65 have used email, 94 percent in the 18-29 age group and 91 percent in all other age groups (except 65+) use email to send or read messages.
Although household income does seem to correlate with email usage, the income differences do not approximate with the extent of population using email in each income group. In other words, while 97 percent of those using email belong to $75,000 income bracket, those earning less than $30,000 are not far behind with 86 percent. In between, the survey identifies two income brackets $30,000 - $49,999, and $50,000 - $74,999 among whom 89 and 94 percent respectively are email users.
Social media is also highly effective as a means of communicating, yet it lags far behind in comparison to email as a means of communication. Only two-thirds of online adults or 66 percent of all American adults use social media. However, over the last decade while use of email has remained fairly constant, use of social media has been rising rapidly.
The huge popularity of emails is perhaps the prime reason why most businesses rely on email communication with clients. According to Comm100, the company that claims to be a leading provider of enterprise-level customer service and communication solutions, “good customer communication can make a difference to your business, helping you build stronger customer relationships, and get a better business performance.” And good customer communication according to them lies in email. This company counts Intel, Dell, University of Nottingham and Cambridge University Press among their huge list of clients perhaps on the strength of their tagline “100 percent communication, 100 percent success”.
It would be more interesting, however, to investigate whether email use largely remains focused to official and business related activities or is it also the communication channel for more intimate, and personal mails, and if yes, to what extent. Otherwise, are we to presume that technology has taken away the joy of communication involved in intimate relationships?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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