Will IM and SMS overtake email in mobile comms?

With applications such as instant messaging and threaded SMS popping up on handsets, are we getting lazy, or is this the dawn of a new email-free mobile communications era?

McCarthy agreed. "There's certainly a use for threaded SMS for certain interactions a quick dialogue requiring only short communication between two people, where the recipient may or may not be immediately available."

Always room for email

Although both agree that new technologies including blogging, IM and threaded SMS conversations will grow, there is always the place for email.

"I think email will always have a useful place in the working world, but simple one-to-one email conversations clogging inboxes may decline over time," explained McCarthy.

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Other trends will be the convergence of fixed and mobile communications, whereby the barriers between the two melt away and cost is and will continue to be an inhibitor/driver for different communications methods too.

The PC and internet revolution has driven demand from users to be able to interact with people and information in many different ways, using technology. To do this on a mobile, you need a smarter, more powerful device in your hand, able to run more advanced applications and securely handle information that passes between servers based in offices, out to workers wherever they need to be.

Yet mobile email will never cease to exist. All major manufacturers and platforms are working together to improve the email services we use.

BlackBerry's Exchange server (BES) is probably the most popular in business communication. Email is instant, and always has been, meaning businessmen can pick up emails wherever they are. BlackBerry's email also features an advanced search option so you can instantly find the email you're looking for, as you would while using a computer-based email program such as Outlook.

Microsoft's Windows Mobile OS only introduced full push email in 2007, which means it was quite a latecomer considering Microsoft is the king of PC-based email services. However, not all service providers are compatible with Windows Mobile, meaning you may not be able to get your particular email account installed easily.

Nokia has recently introduced Nokia Email to support its fully operational Mail for Exchange service. Mail for Exchange is fully compliant with Microsoft's Exchange Server and Active Sync, meaning it's seamless to set up and operate/manage from either your PC or handset, just like Microsoft's option is. The interface of Nokia's Mail for Exchange is not as easy to use, although is designed more for consumers than businessmen.

The iPhone's push email service is the most disappointing. Considering the iPhone's user interface is so simple, it's disappointing that you can't search for a particular email, and the service wasn't even fully exchange-based until the 3G iPhone was introduced with a substantial software update.

Looking forward

So where does the future lie for business communications?

Demsey believes that as high-speed wireless networks become more ubiquitous and hand-held computing devices become more powerful and affordable, new methods of communication and interesting twists on existing methods of communications are inevitable and welcome.

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"We'll continue to see communications expand along three major axes: who can communicate, where they can communicate from, and the form of the communication be it IM, SMS, email, voice, VoIP, Video or whatver's next," he added.

For mobile news and reviews, check out Know Your Mobile.

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