Email is dead; long live email

Email is the Rasputin of digital behaviors. 2011 saw a peak in the “email is dead” theme; people complain incessantly about email deluge and time spent in the dreaded inbox; and teens are resisting it (although they’re spending more time online via mobile). Good articles abound about how to fend off email and manage it. And yet, nothing has taken its place: services like Yammer don’t seem to have found the social substitute, and layoffs are beginning.

The lingering existence of email was summarized neatly yesterday in TNW — email just works, and has a low barrier to entry. People are still finding innovative ways to cut through the inbox clutter and deliver results. And Mailbox, which has taken about a million and a half reservations, is exploring new ways to advance mobile email into productivity (and was promptly snapped up by Dropbox).

In a fast moving digital environment, it’s frustrating to think that a highly imperfect and widely derided application around for nearly two decades is still where we should be sinking time and effort. But ignore email at your peril — it’s still bread-and-butter for most digital initiatives.

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