Email, 32 Years Later

Email turned 32 over Labor Day weekend, and what a long way it's come.

On August 30, 1982, Shiva Ayyadurai changed global communication forever by introducing email. Today, email remains one of the most effective and widely used marketing channels the world over, and it continues to evolve. Like the telephone, email has undergone radical transformations since its inception.

Indeed, the most disruptive agents in email weren't even part of the email conversation a mere 10, or even five years ago. Of course, we're talking about the growth of mobile and the companies behind today's industry-wide mobilization.

People read more email messages on Apple devices than any other platform, according to a recent study by email services company SendGrid. The study, which collected data on more than 8 billion emails sent by more than 125,000 companies over two 10-day periods in 2013 and 2014, found that users opened emails on iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers more than 36 million times per day.

“The fact that Apple devices are being widely used for email hasn't come as a surprise to us.  It's a trend we've seen developing since we started formally tracking email engagement in 2010,” explains Aaron Beach, senior data scientist at SendGrid. “What is perhaps unexpected in our data set is the emergence of mobile, tablet and desktop Windows devices as a fast growth segment for email engagement.” The study shows an average 32 million emails were opened every day on Windows devices, a whopping 147% increase from the previous year and making Windows the second fastest growing platform. “We don't have conclusive evidence for whether the Windows OS is making a comeback, but we are seeing stronger Windows-based email engagement, especially in Europe,” Beach continues.

Linux-based devices, which include Android, were reportedly the fastest growing segment for email opens globally, growing by 329% in just the last year. Blackberry devices saw the third most growth in email opens at 127%. Additionally, email opens on Sony's Playstation Vita platform grew by 10% over last year.

Interestingly enough, email opens in the U.S. fell below 50% for the first time since 2010, with opens in the United Kingdom and Canada now accounting for about 6% and 4%, respectively. The study also notes the continuing expansion of commercial email providers such as Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo, and the increased personalization of spam filters.

“It's still to early to determine whether these trend lines will continue, but these are data points email marketers should be aware of as we move into 2015,” Beach says.

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