Should we de-rail email?

You’ve got mail! Or have you?

Everyone has an email account, right? But is it something you check regularly – or do you have it just because its a signup requirement for most websites? The first incarnation of an email system first surfaced in 1972 and continued to grow over the next two decades. The innovative technology faced a boom in the 1990s and was a popular way for the world to send and receive messages electronically. It was a massive step up from the traditional mail service that we sometimes now refer to as snail-mail.

There was just one problem with email. It wasn’t instant. While the message was sent instantly, the only way the receiver could read it that moment is if they logged into their account, which back in the day was probably provided by AOL. Although Instant Messaging services had been around in one form or another for some time, it was in 1999 that Microsoft launched their MSN Messenger service, in which users could open a chat window and have an  instantly continuous conversation. Who could forget chatting away to robot Smarterchild or sending someone a nudge? Apparently, we can.

Instant messaging

By 2010, IM services were in decline and the popularity of MSN and AOL’s service AIM was waning significantly.  By 2014, MSN (which, by this time had been helplessly re-branded as Windows Live Messenger), had ceased its operations and had merged with Skype, a far more modern IM service known for its professional feel and ability to make worldwide phone and video calls. Now, IM has been replaced with the convenience of apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, which renders the use of email even further into the past. In the social media world, emails appear to be almost redundant and you have to wonder – how long before we’re receiving order confirmations and e-tickets through Facebook Messenger?

How long before this gem of a 90s album track by Britney Spears becomes totally irrelevant to the technology world?