Social networking will replace e-mail by 2014

Social networking will replace e-mail as the primary means of communication for some business users by the end of 2014, according to a report by Gartner published today.

E-mail is beginning to integrate more with social notworking, leading Gartner to predict that the massive growth in mediums like Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s rumoured Google Me, will replace e-mail for at least 20 percent of business users.

“People increasingly want to use mobile devices for collaboration to share content, information, and experiences with their communities,” said Monica Basso,  research vice president at Gartner. “Social paradigms are converging with e-mail, instant messaging, voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and presence, creating new collaboration styles.”

Gartner also predicts that there will be over 1 billion e-mail users by the end of 2014, with a large proportion of these operating from the cloud and integrating social networking services.

E-mail in the cloud, particularly via services offered by Microsoft, IBM, and Google, accounted for only 3 percent of e-mail accounts in 2009, but Gartner expects that to increase to 10 percent by the end of 2012 as the cloud descends on just about every technology sector.

“Thanks to ease of access, the cloud will generate indirect competition in the wireless e-mail software market and will transform it in the long term,” Basso said. “Cloud e-mail offerings from software and service players, such as Google’s Gmail, will begin to be adopted, pulling wireless e-mail implementations into the cloud as well. Research In Motion and other wireless e-mail vendors will build partnerships with cloud providers to address their customers’ cloud strategies. 

“Through 2012, wireless e-mail products and services will be interchangeable, shipping in large volumes at reduced prices. Wireless e-mail will be highly commoditized and on any device. This commoditization will, in turn, drive standardization and price reductions on service bundles from mobile carriers.”