Don't Forget About Email

Email is a bedrock platform for unified communications, but it tends to blend into the background due to its familiarity. It continues to grow and increasingly is mobilized, however. Attention should be paid. 

 By Carl Weinschenk | Posted May 18, 2011
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Email tends to get lost in the mix of unified communications tools simply because it is the most familiar. It fades into the background as newer and glitzier applications and platforms hog the spotlight.

But email remains fundamental and, despite its lack of sexiness, must be considered. The bottom line is that it continues to grow. Radicati Group research released this week says that the number of email accounts worldwide will increase from 3.1 billion to 4.1 billion between this year and the end of 2015. The group noted that despite the growth, “a great deal of corporate and consumer communication is also shifting to other forms of communications, particularly Instant Messaging (IM) and social networks.”

The great increase in email accounts doesn't mean that more people are using email. It suggests, rather, that more accounts are being established by a relatively stable number of users. Email security and certification firm Return Path conducted a survey, also released this week, which found that 48 percent of email is done via Web browsers (i.e., Gmail, Yahoo Mail, etc.), 36 percent via desktop programs and 16 percent on mobile devices. The study reports that Microsoft Outlook controls 63 percent of the desktop email universe.

Mobile email, not surprisingly, is the hottest topic. Though it still represents only 16 percent of the total, it increased 81 percent. The popularity of email on tablets — the device that Return Path says accounted for the lion's share of mobile email growth — makes RIM's PlayBook strategy all the more curious. The bottom line is clear: Don't take shortcuts with mobile security in general or mobile email security in particular. Think before doing such things as using Webmail for vital and/or restricted information.

The mobile email world truly is progressing. Indeed, this week, astronaut Mark Kelly — husband of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords — sent the first email from space. The story didn't say what type of email he used.

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