The ability to send text digitally (or “electronic email” as it was called) has been around for decades. But it wasn’t until 1993 that email as we know it started to become a widely used term. In the 90s, even the less-than-tech-savvy began emailing when services like AOL and Hotmail became available. Email was becoming enough of a mainstay that movies would include email-related phrases in their titles (e.g. You’ve Got Mail). Today, there’s over 4 billion email accounts worldwide and email has become a pillar of modern communication. People will often have separate email accounts for work, school, and home. Email is so prevalent, that the average worker spends 13 hours a week just on email alone. Is it worth that much time?
Reliance on email is not just a western habit. Nearly half of all email accounts stem from Asia and the Pacific region. Europe follows with 22% of worldwide email share, followed by North America with 14%. South America and Africa along with a few other locations account for the remaining 15%.
Email continues to grow. Since 2010 over 1 billion new email addresses have been created. There are three times the number of consumer email accounts than business accounts. This is likely due to the fact that almost all business persons have a personal consumer account in addition to their business accounts and on a worldwide scale, there are for more consumers than business people generally.
Interestingly, despite the increase in daily emails sent, the number of spam emails received per day has remained about the same. After a small decline from 14 per day in 2011 to 13 per day in 2012, the average number of received spam has stayed at 13 messages per day. This is likely due to the fact that, though there are more spammers than ever, spam filtering is improving faster than spammers can counteract.
Unlike spam, however, total emails sent and received via business accounts is on the rise.
It may seem strange that the number of emails received nearly doubles emails sent, but this is likely due to the prevalence of automated emails (calendar updates, spam, etc.) and cc’ing (where one sent email turns into multiple received emails).
Business accounts send far more emails each day than consumer accounts. In fact, consumer email totals are on the decline.
If the usage of email is still growing at a breakneck pace, why are consumers sending less messages? Substitution is the likely answer. Because modern tech like smartphones, tablets, and laptops have become so prevalent in a consumer setting, consumers can often communicate more easily through texting and instant messaging apps than through email.
How do your email habits compare to the averages above? What do you use as a substitute for email? Is all that time spent on email worth it? Let us know in the comments below.
Follow the author on Twitter at @dnlRussell
Michael Chui et al, The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies, McKinsey & Company, www.mckinsey.com/insights/high_tech_telecoms_internet/the_social_economy. Sara Radicati, Email Statistics Report 2011, http://www.radicati.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Email-Statistics-Report-2010-2014-Executive-Summary2.pdf. Sara Radicati, Email Statistics Report 2014, http://www.radicati.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Email-Statistics-Report-2014-2018-Executive-Summary.pdf. "Electronic Mail" usage versus "Email", https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=electronic+mail%2Ce-mail&year_start=1980&year_end=1995&corpus=15&smoothing=0&share=&direct_url=t1%3B%2Celectronic%20mail%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2Ce%20-%20mail%3B%2Cc0.