What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word, eMail?
Over this past year, we have asked hundreds of people about their eMail use. They spoke about it as an obligation. In some cases they spoke about it like it was part of their morning ritual, “I wake up and check my eMail.” It seems to have remained the most private, productive and personally meaningful space on the Internet. It’s a massive, reliable platform that people continue to lean on for both personal and business matters. Here’s the rub, many of the people we spoke to shared a similar sentiment:
Search Box. That’s it?
We believe that part of the problem is that the public Web is leaking in—in some cases it has flooded our eMail and has totally blurred the line between our private piece of the Internet and the Web. The stream of eMail is becoming more and more like the raging rivers of Facebook, Twitter and “social media” as even the giants feel a need to inject their presence. Mentioned on Twitter? You get an eMail. Someone posts to your Facebook wall? You get another eMail. There’s a new post to a discussion group on LinkedIn? You get yet another eMail. Quora. Pinterest. Blogs. Etc. Etc. Etc.
All of this is being presented to us in the order it is delivered. Every eMail is placed on top of the pile the moment it comes in. From the perspective of a machine, this is a logical flow. Yet “flow” is not usually a word that people associate with eMail. Users are required to first filter this torrent of information and turn it into something more meaningful—something they can actually engage with. Some choose to organize. Some have given up and simply rely on search. Both are spoken about almost as if it’s an art form. Self-proclaimed masters of labels, folders and/or search abound. “I put this in quotes, then constrain it to attachments, then type this and I immediately get what I want.” Brilliance! But say Boolean to most people and they might ask, “Is that a type of soup?”
Long Live eMail
Here’s the rest of the story. People also expressed the following sentiment:
“I can’t live without eMail. I use it multiple times a day.”
This tension led us to the conclusion that the most private, flexible and reliable platform on the Web is at stake—over 2 Billion users and growing. We want to return eMail to the engine of productivity it once was. We want to give users the opportunity to simply engage. Check out what we are doing here.
eMail can’t suck. Or, does it really matter? What do you think?