Here’s a weird story.
Yesterday, I was driving back home after watching the latest Harry Potter movie – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. I have never read any of the books, however, I have enjoyed the movies and the Wikipedia summaries.
I sometimes browse the news and on Friday they had a “Harry Potter Stars: Then and Now” article on some news site. I took a look at them and compared the stars of the movies and how they had grown up during the past ten years.
I thought to myself “Gee, what was I doing ten years ago when the first movie came out?” As it turns out, I remember exactly what I was doing. It was November 2001 and I was living in England at the time. I remember that there was a big buzz around the movie and that a lot of my friends were going to go see it, but I didn’t. In fact, I didn’t see the first movie until I rented it on video (they still had them in those days) a year later and saw the second movie a couple of days after that. I thought to myself “Wow, has it really been ten years since all of that? Man, that’s almost a third of my life!” Time sure does fly.
Anyhow, as I walked out of the theater I realized that I had been texting and emailing various people with my smart phone. Unlike 95% of the population, I didn’t get a smart phone until a month ago (I got a Windows Phone; I know it’s supposedly not as cool as an iPhone or an Android, but I really like it). I held out for a long time and finally upgraded because I wanted to use all of the advanced doodads like Twitter, Facebook, and using both of my thumbs to type text messages.
I then realized something – I’m using my smart phone to do texting, tweeting and Facebook-ing. I’m also checking (personal) mail on my cell phone. I’m not using a PC or regular email client for any of that stuff.
That made me realize something; in the past, I have dismissed Facebook’s “this-is-not-email” feature as not relevant to people in business. But yet it was clear to me that I got along perfectly well this past weekend communicating with people on my phone and not using email that much.
Why is that a problem?
The people who don’t see the winds of change are the people who are old and stuck in their ways, or don’t have access to information. I had access to information, I just interpreted it incorrectly. Why? Is it because I am old and stuck in my ways? Am I not hip enough to see the shift away from mail is coming faster than I think?
My rationale for dismissing short messaging is that it’s fine for personal communication but not for business. In business, you need a richer experience. But I wonder if it’s even necessary? There’s something to be said for simplicity. A lot, actually. If you have a simpler interface, you just don’t do all of the complex mailing that you would otherwise. And you wouldn’t miss it, either. Prevailing thinking is that business systems are taken from the office into the home (fax machines, photocopiers, etc). But maybe not – iPhones are now very popular amongst business people and so are Android phones. Those started in the consumer market and made their way into the business market.
One thing that I am going to stand by – email may not be the biggest communication platform you use. It will get smaller as a percentage. But will it go to zero? And will the mail client be important anymore? Or will it be reduced to a much smaller niche market?
Or maybe I’m too old to see the future.