On The Convergence of Email and Chat (Google and Apple [and Yahoo] Get It)

Email, chat, and other messaging tools are converging…and most people don’t seem to mind. So it seems that Danah Boyd got into the same trouble I got into when I said that social networks were killing email. She wrote a whole post explaining why she claims email is dead: “Do young people have email accounts? […]

Email, chat, and other messaging tools are converging…and most people don’t seem to mind.

So it seems that Danah Boyd got into the same trouble I got into when I said that social networks were killing email.

She wrote a whole post explaining why she claims email is dead:

“Do young people have email accounts? Yes. Do they login to them semi-regularly? Yes. Do they use it as their primary form of asynchronous communication for talking with their friends? No.

Obviously, we’re both overstating for effect. But, if we pay close attention to the online habits of people using the Web, we can’t help but see that this is a huge sea change. The tide is now moving out on email. Moving away from standalone email as the primary messaging tool is a huge deal, for platform makers, software makers, and the people who use them. You and me.

Apple and Google Get It (Yahoo Too)

Several months ago I wrote a post about how Apple was making a huge social software push. This is why…because email is dying a slow death, and people are getting used to faster, more immediate messaging tools. Wikis, blogs, chat…that’s what it’s all about.

Google also did an interesting thing along these lines. They combined email and messaging in Gmail. It started off as a “hey, that would be cool” type of idea. But it morphed into something that really speaks to the convergence of messaging. So when you go to your email account you have a choice, do you want to send someone email or simply start a chat? If they’re online and you have a couple minutes, you’ll probably chat. If they’re offline or you don’t want to have a full conversation, you’ll probably email. It’s kind of like calling your neighbor…you call them instead of going over when you don’t want to talk long.

Additionally, Google just announced they’ve built chat into Orkut, their social network site.

Update: Techcrunch is reporting that Yahoo is getting in on the mix. Like Google, they’re also integrating their instant messenger and mail apps. (hat tip: Josh) – additional coverage on Wired Blog

It’s Just Messaging

I don’t think people really care about what messaging tool they’re using. But we do have some baseline requirements. It has to be easy, of course. It has to have our contacts readily available. It has to be accessible at the touch of a button. It has to archive all messages (this is important). And, it has to be ever faster. Both email and chat can handle this, as well as email embedded in social networks or even some wiki and blog tools.

Conversations are all about messaging. No matter what form it comes in.

Published: November 9th, 2006

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