Futurists Predict Email Will Become Obsolete

Joel Eisenberg

Futurists, technologists, and some economists believe email will become extinct well before the end of the current century.

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Author’s Note

This article is based on technology postings and related media reports. All linked information within this article is fully-attributed to the following outlets: Wikipedia.org, Forbes.com, Inc.com, Herdlein.com, and The Radicati Group.

Introduction

Wikipedia.org contains a comprehensive page on the history of email. As introduced on the page: Electronic mail (email or e-mail) is a method of exchanging messages ("mail") between people using electronic devices. Email was thus conceived as the electronic (digital) version of, or counterpart to, mail, at a time when "mail" meant only physical mail (hence e- + mail). Email later became a ubiquitous (very widely used) communication medium, to the point that in current use, an e-mail address is often treated as a basic and necessary part of many processes in business, commerce, government, education, entertainment, and other spheres of daily life in most countries.

In recent years, technology has evolved at an unheralded speed. E-Commerce in some circles has replaced the in-store shopping experience. Smartphones, smart TVs, and tablets remain omnipresent. Texting long ago supplanted voice phone communication for many.

It is within this modern-day reality, once largely the purview of science fiction, where both economists and futurists find themselves intersecting regarding predictions of the end of email as we know it.

Let us explore further.

The Predicted Future of Email

Earlier this year, NewsBreak published my article, “Economists Predict Cash Will Become Obsolete,” from which I echoed the title for this current piece. That article touched upon existing technological advances that are largely predicted to one day cause cash money to become obsolete.

As excerpted from that story: Though the year such action is said to be consummated remains in dispute, economists largely agree that cash and credit as we know it will entirely give way to virtual currency.

The same can be said regarding email. For the past several years, prognosticators have warned about the death of the electronic mail delivery system (as they have regarding the United States Post Office, which is fodder for another article).

Technology or simple human fatigue is most always to blame for predictions of this nature. See here for Herdlein.com’s “Email is Dying, and It’s Dying Fast,” regarding the purported death of email marketing, and here for an archived Inc.com report, titled “It's 2018 and Email is Already Dead; Here's Who Zapped It Into Extinction,” which relays the story of an 18-year-old student encountered by writer and Inc.com Contributing Editor John Brandon.

As excerpted from Brandon’s article: Now, that student does respond by text message, Facebook chat, on Slack, and sometimes by finding me in person. In fact, she's an excellent communicator. Most people in her generation communicate constantly, almost too much. What's happened is that email has lost all power as far as a form of digital communication for her age group.

In more recent years, we can of course add Twitter and Instagram DMs to the mix.

The articles above, it should be noted, contain various attributions to tech experts, consisting of both futurists and economists, who believe email has attained its peak popularity.

On balance, a June, 2019 article from Forbes.com, entitled “It’s Probably Time to Stop Announcing the Death of Email,” takes issue with the prediction: But the death knell for email isn’t sounding yet: we’re still sending emails, and in huge volumes. According to research from The Radicati Group, the total number of business and consumer emails sent and received per day in 2018 exceeded 281 billion and it expects this figure to grow to over 333 billion by 2022.

The article further stated the first email was sent in 1971, saying it was the same decade VHS tapes and floppy discs went mainstream.

The balance of this Forbes piece indeed puts the prediction of the death knell of email in perspective. It may well happen as experts say; perhaps, though, not anytime soon.

Conclusion

Email may well be replaced by something more efficient in the near or far future.

For the time being, though, as a form of communication — as opposed to marketing — email will likely remain ensconced as a cultural necessity.

Thank you for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

Northridge, CA
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