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Webmail Use Declines as Young People Choose Newer Communication Channels

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February 07, 2011

Webmail Use Declines as Young People Choose Newer Communication Channels

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

Technological cannibalization is a term used sometimes to describe a scenario in which one up-and-coming popular technology begins to eclipse – and eliminate the need – for another previously popular technology. So who's the victim this time?

Webmail, reports the New York Times' Alex Mindlin. Webmail, of course, is Web-based e-mail from sites such as Google's (News - Alert) Gmail or Yahoo. And according to comScore, a firm that tracks Internet traffic, we're using Webmail less and less: traffic declined 5.9 percent from November 2009 to November 2010. So who's the culprit?

Here's a hint: it's in your pocket or purse, or clipped to your belt. It's your cell phone. Due to the proliferation of smart phones and their ubiquitous mobile e-mail, fewer of us need to log into our Webmail. According to the same comScore (News - Alert) study, the number of people who check e-mail almost daily on a mobile device rose 40 percent in the same period.

In reality, says comScore, the trend is rife among the youngest Internet users, who are increasingly ditching e-mail for mobile e-mail, texting or communicating through social networking Web sites like Facebook (News - Alert) and Twitter. Twenty-four percent fewer people age 12 to 17 used Web-based e-mail in November 2010 than did in November 2009, even as the number of users 55 and over continued to rise, wrote Mindin.

“Younger users have so many communication channels that e-mail isn’t their first option,” said Andrew Lipsman, an analyst with comScore. “At this stage in their life, many of them are communicating through Facebook and texting.”

Maybe that will free up the bandwidth for those of us over 17? Seems there's a silver lining in this particular techno-cloud.

Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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