I read an article on the New York Times Blog where Yahoo! and Google are thinking about turning the email platform into a social network.
I was just wondering what your thoughts were on this social network movement that everyone seems to be jumping on. What could this mean for the future of email marketing? Will it be any different or will email HTML designers suddenly have to compete with social applications for attention to their messages?
I didn't read the whole article, but personally I feel (for better or worse) that email has been corrupted as a "one-size-fits-all" form on Internet messaging. Now we want to turn it into a social network? Between SPAM, and everyone wanting to "send me frequent updates to my inbox," I'm constantly fighting to _decrease_ the noise in my inbox. People like this are out there trying to _increase_ the noise to my inbox.
Personally, I think email is a big target for _everything_ Internet messaging because its the lowest common denominator. There is a _huge_ gap in the Internet community between the early adopters and the late adopters (what about all those people still on dial-up modems using Internet Explorer 5 on an 800x600 screen). If we had more widespread adoption of technologies like SMS, RSS, IM, etc., we might actually see a willingness to use them more appropriately and not abuse email.
My 2 cents? I'd rather see Inbox 0.1 than Inbox 2.0. =/
And yes, I realize what I just said may contradict with some of the work we do (like developing an RSS to Email newsletter application). These are just the ideas I have about how _I_ like to use email personally. I prefer to receive newsletter-like content via RSS, not email. However, there are a lot of people out there who don't feel the same way, and that's okay too. =)
Dahlia, I checked out the article yesterday and to be honest I don't know how much you can really take away from it. The descriptions of how they plan on changing the experience is so vague, and Yahoo! really do have a habit of trying things and pulling them if they don't seem to work pretty quickly.
If it means making it easier to see the email that's important to you, it will probably be a welcome feature to email users, and make senders work even harder to provide relevant and interesting content. I think this is a plus for both sides. At this stage though, i think it's a little too early to form much of an opinion on any impact this might have. It will certainly be interesting to see how it all pans out.
I also completely agree with Chris, it's so easy for us early adopters to forget about the other 99% who have never heard of RSS and don't really know what social networking means. Who knows if they'll get much value out of some of these initiatives - I'll guess we'll find out soon enough.