Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, June 23, 2021

When Yahoo! made a big deal last week about opening up “clean” registration for @ymail.com and @rocketmail.com email accounts, I definitely questioned the value of promoting something as commonplace (and even passe) as email.

Especially when it’s been superseded, especially among the youth demographics:

Anyone younger than about 30 doesn’t seem interested in having an email address period, let alone caring whether it’s hermanzweibel@rocketmail.com or whatever. My teenaged daughters and their friends never use email anyway — they text message (in which case all you need is a phone number) or they use Facebook messages as a way of communicating. I send them email and they never get it. Do they have email addresses? Yes, and they are a combination of their names, underscores, numbers and nicknames, and so on — and they couldn’t care less. Not exactly a huge market opportunity there either, I wouldn’t say.

And that’s nothing new: Three years ago, Pew Internet & American Life reported that teens considered email suitable only for “old people”.

The core idea is that email relies upon “pull” interaction with the user, i.e. you typically have to check it manually, especially when using a Web-based version like Y! Mail, Gmail etc. Yes, you can set up any of a thousand widgets to alert you to incoming messages, but it’s not a default setting. In contrast, IM and texting have built-in pop-up notifications that make an exchange via those channels seem spontaneous and instant (they’re really not — under the hood they function much like email, but it’s so seamless that the user can’t tell, and that’s the key). Speed kills.

So what’s the point in expanding email, if it’s the less-favored communication option?

Actually, email is still the single most compelling killer app on the Web. Checking email is one of the few critical online activities that “old people” engage in; and since advertisers covet older demographics for their spending power, they’ll buy up ad space on email screens. Even Google is cognizant of this. Essentially, Yahoo! is potentially tripling the amount of ad inventory it can offer advertisers by opening up the ymail and rocketmail domains to new users.

More broadly, I also question how far one can go in life without using personal email. Despite all capabilities, it’s awkward to IM or text business-related correspondence, including resumes for job-hunting and so on. For all the alternatives, email still offers a compact communication channel, even with spam headaches.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 06/23/2008 04:02:36 PM
Category: Internet, Society
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2 Feedbacks »
  1. Everyone young has an email address, if not 10. They just ignore emails, like everyone else.

    Comment by David — 06/24/2008 @ 01:27:51 PM

  2. COMPULSIVE INBOX-CHECKERS…

    So much for email dying a slow death: An AOL survey finds that a big chunk of America is glued to their inboxes, checking for new email frequently and with little regard for location/situation.
    New Yorkers are at the forefront:
    More than half of the Ne…

    Trackback by Population Statistic — 07/30/2008 @ 01:56:37 PM

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