There is a severe case of MacroMyopia spreading across the blogosphere. Today it is The Death of Email. Yesterday it was Inbox 2.0 - Email meets Social Networks. Macro-Myopia is the tendency to overestimate the short term impact of a new product or technology, and underestimate its long term implications on the marketplace, and how competitors will react.
Straight up and to the right - It is human nature to extrapolate the early success of a "new thing" to world domination, and to the death of the "old thing". Insert any variable for "new thing" like; Facebook, Twitter, Text Messaging, Open Source, Linux, YouTube...and you can finish the sentence with the death of the "old thing".
The best of both worlds - In most cases the early innovator of a product or technology wins some early success in a narrow market segment. The big winners come in later by incorporating the new technology into an existing product or service and creating a best of both worlds solution that appeals to a much broader market. I call this the "Innovate or Imitate - Fame or Fortune" scenario.
Will Social Networks, Twitter, and SMS rule the world? No, I don't think so. But, elements of each of them will be blended into existing business applications like Email, CRM, Knowledge Management, recruiting, and other enterprise services.
Email is ripe for innovation. As I wrote yesterday, Email is your natural social network, and there are big opportunities at the intersection points of social networks and business applications. Brad Feld, Fred Wilson, Tom Evslin, and a bunch of smart people are getting together in NYC to think about ideas and investment opportunities at those intersection points.
But kids don't use Email...so Email is dead, right? Yes, it is true that the younger generation does text messaging and IM, not email. It is also true that they use MySpace and Facebook, not discussion boards and workspaces. So, Facebook, Twitter, and SMS will rule the world, right?
In a word, No. Those communication modes work great for kids, but kids grow up and get jobs. Work requires a different form of communication and collaboration. Social Networks are fun, but business networks get things done, and ultimately make money. Lots of money. Email might be one of those forgotten markets that could be a huge opportunity in the future.