Do you use e-mail for communication between friends and family anymore? The likely answer is no, even though e-mail was once a very popular communication method that people used every day to communicate with friends and family online
Instant messaging came along.
Instant messaging has been around for a very long time. It was likely popularised by AOL’s messenger service, AIM. AIM has been around for a very long time – since 1997 and was used more in the early 2000s than now. AIM still has a good market share in the United States today, but in Europe, Windows Live Messenger has, by far, the largest market share of them all.
Instant messaging is fast.
Unlike e-mailing, instant messaging is both and instant. It’s a great way to communicate with friends because it is instant. Some folks may not even use Windows Live Messenger anymore. But it’s not because instant messaging is going away any time soon, it is rather because people use Facebook for messaging. But I don’t agree that Windows Live Messenger is going to die anytime soon, because I think for the users who use the Internet a lot during the day still use Windows Live Messenger or another instant messaging network, such as Skype, Google talk or XMPP. Never heard of XMPP? XMPP is an open-standards communications protocol – it’s the opposite of Microsoft’s Windows Live Messaging protocol which is proprietary and therefore not open-standards.
If anything, more people are using Skype for communication – so it’s a good thing for Microsoft now they have acquired Skype (and Microsoft are very serious about Skype – they have an entire Skype Division at Microsoft’s campus).
Yes, there has been a sharp rise in social networking, and it is proof to everyone that anything can become wildly successful if you have the right product or service, and Facebook is one of them. Why has Facebook become phenomenally successful? Because it is all about socialising and communication. These are things people have always done – in person, texting, what have you – so I am not surprised how much revenue Facebook is now making because their service has become incredibly successful in just the space of five years or so.
So, is e-mailing dead?
Everyone has different opinions on this and this is just my opinion. I don’t believe e-mail is dead (and there are interesting services such as Shortmail.com), but I do think the use of e-mail is simply changing to more long-term e-mail communication. For example, we all still use e-mails to get updates on orders we’ve placed for online shopping we do, or e-mail updates or newsletters from online companies, reminders of service invoices and e-mailing someone we know when they’re not online on instant messaging and so forth.
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Original Publication – September 2012.