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Nov 09


40 Years of Email – you’ve come a long way baby

It’s interesting that in this year when email turns 40 (yes, it really has been 40 years) that the voices banging the death knell of email seems to be reaching a crescendo. And, as the CEO of an “email” provider I have to say I agree with much of what they say – but I would argue too that email is being transformed, maybe even reaching a zenith, not dying.

Email became a mammoth productivity app – replacing not just memos, letters, faxes and even packages, but also phone calls and in-person discussions – because it was easy, fast, inexpensive and BOTH real-time AND  asynchronous (you could communicate at different times – and time zones, and yet, instantly). It is because of this flexibility that email has – I believe – an incredibly interesting future.

Add to email all these mobile devices (and other platforms real and imagined), social media, even instant messaging; package it in a way that’s flexible to the sender and the receiver and now, baby, you’ve got something.

Gecko prefers to send his friends updates on Twitter, but some of his friends want to hear from him on Facebook. I prefer to send instant messages, but our bloody US PR team prefers to get them on email. The company maintains a secure address book, but our President likes all his contacts in one place – from his tablet. Our saintly German PR guy prefers to get messages on his mobile phone but respond to them only from his notebook.

A true email and collaboration system factors in all these possibilities and allows the sender and receiver to make THEIR choices. A true email system openly draws (almost revels) in the complexity and shows users only the simplest of choices. And as communication gets more complex, this middle-aged ‘wunder’ app will continue to amaze us all.

Happy 40th email

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