With the advent of social media, email is seemingly being used less. Now more than ever, internet surfers seem to prefer communicating through social websites instead of using email. With the introduction of social media and its wide range of new apps, social networking tools have led to a marked decline in the use of email worldwide; while the time spent on surfing social networking sites has risen quite steeply.
In a study done across the U.S. (refer to Fig. 1), the number of social network users is predicted to increase to 44% or 115 million users in 2013 compared to 79 million users in 2008. The report was released by eMarketer, which also stated that teen users are a major contributor to social media's growth.
Other recent research among countries in the Asia-Pacific region (refer to Fig. 2), has shown the time spent using Yahoo Mail, Gmail, Hotmail and other email services has declined in most regions. The graph shows that the most impacted regions are India and Malaysia. The figure was recently released by comScore, a global online audience measurement service.
The time spent in India and Japan on web-based email services dropped by 19 and 10 percent respectively. The decline is however limited to Japan, India, South Korea, Australia, Malaysia and Singapore. Email use across regions like Taiwan, Hong Kong and New Zealand have shown fair growth.
Could the frequent rise in mobile based social networking and SMS be attributed to the decline of email? As per analyst speculation, the usage of mobile is partially responsible for the decline in email usage, since internet use from mobile phones has not caught on in many countries. Mobile phone internet use still needs time to surpass the number of computer-based internet users. It's been widely observed that most cell-phone users do not use their cell-phones for SMS, chatting, social networking, email access, etc.
The social networking category graph from comScore (refer to Fig. 3), shows that the use of social networking sites has increased tremendously in 2010 vs. the previous year. As new users join everyday and traditional email users begin to use social media instead, email is quickly becoming less popular as a means of communication.
With the relative decline of email, social networking giant Facebook has recently come up with Facebook mail, which is said to target its 500 million users across the world. The company has dropped traditional email and rather come up with a new concept to target users by fashioning messaging while simultaneously accessing social profiles. They have also begun automatically issuing @facebook.com email addresses when users create a customized Facebook handle.
The data suggests that with the rise of social networking sites, email has witnessed a noticeable drop usage. However, email still has great value with traditional and business users who prefer email for safe communications and data sharing. Evidence suggests that social media may one day leap ahead in terms of usage, but that email will still remain popular due to its loyal userbase who are reluctant to adopt change.
I also asked this question last year on my blog http://www.elaineshannon.com/2010/05/is-facebook-messaging-replacing-email/ . I did not get much of a response then but today I am sure that most would agree….the times are changing.