Blog Post

Americans: Addicted to Mobile Email

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

I confess I have checked email on my iPhone-Nokia E61i-Blackberry while in the bathroom, crossing the street and during dinner at a busy restaurant. I used to think that with my email addiction, I was an extreme case, an email addict of the worse kind. Apparently, I am not alone.

wirelessemail.jpgA survey conducted by AOL shows that checking email on the portable devices has doubled since 2004. Americans who carry a mobile email device have some really strange addictions:

* 59% are checking email in bed
* 53% in the bathroom
* 37% are checking email while they drive.

The survey reveals that 43% of email users check their email first thing in the morning, and 40% have checked their email in the middle of the night. An average email user checks mail about five times a day. Nearly 83% of Americans check email while on vacation.


If mobile email is an addiction, one has to say the biggest dealer in town is RIM, whose Blackberry is the device of choice for many of us, though lately other devices and solutions such as Good Technology (a division of Motorola) have started to gain some traction.

According to The Radicati Group, a consulting and research firm based in Palo Alto, Calif., globally the wireless E-mail Market, which is forecast to grow from $6 billion in 2007 to nearly $25 billion in 2011. (PDF)

25 Responses to “Americans: Addicted to Mobile Email”

  1. surf4vr,

    Teleflip is free, but it spams your friends – if you put their names into your exclusive sender list (tried it, got s**t for it from a couple of buddies) – and it leaves you out in the cold with navigation fees. Going from link to link costs you.

    Meemo isn’t free – but it offers privacy, works with 95-100% of cell phone models, and the 5$ that you get charged a month covers all navigation costs. The e-mail from the phone is also unlimited.

    Do some research – dude – and you’ll figure out where the value in this market is, outside of PDA’s. Also: since when did surfers become avid blog posters on tech-related sites?

  2. Ben — Whether or not you like AOL it is still the largest single email operator in the US. So their stats on email use do mean something.

    One other thing — all the Windows Mobile implementations (or at least all of the ones I have seen) support IMAP and POP clients to get email from your ISP (including AOL, MSN/Hotmail, or other ISPs). This allows one phone to sync several emails (I sync 3 of them personally).


  3. I live in Finland and bike to work. Not just checking, but typing while on a moving bicycle on a path full of other moving bicycles is one of the nearly stupidest things I have seen. I am just waiting to see someone smack into a tree or signpost. That will cure the addiction.

  4. surf4vr

    checking email on the beach between surf sessions makes sense — hey, at least it’s not in the middle of the night! and (oh, I can’t believe I’m saying this) people will think you’re working…

    but skip the Blackberry and put the money towards a new board –the Teleflip service is free (unlike Meemo)

    surf on,

  5. RandomRat

    Also note anything with the word AOL – 100% unbelievable. I wonder how AOL is shelling out all this money to do research, it’s the biggest junk mother of all and it’s still alive! Geez I need a break.

  6. It’s not surprising that this is such a hot market. With Push technology, there is no reason why average consumers shouldn’t get on board with mobile email.

    This recent article in the Wall Street Journal also provides an interesting perspective –

    In Asia, the mobile email market has taken an interesting turn. SingTel is now offering free data services to its [email protected] users ([email protected] is based on Push email technology from Consilient) who are willing to receive sponsored messages. Companies such as Pizza Hut, KFC and others have signed on as advertisers for the service and are essentially footing the bill for the data charges that mobile email subscribers would incur…. talk about finding interesting ways to spur mobile email usage.

  7. Patricia

    if you’re gonna check your stupid email (or talk on your stupid phone, for that matter) while on city sidewalks, please step aside so those of us who actually want to WALK (hence the name – sidewalks – get it???) are free to go on our merry way. If you’re texting, don’t be walking – not to mention driving, shudder… You might even find it’s nice to observe and reflect upon the world around you. I used to like doing that until it was invaded by gadget-obsessed freaks polluting the air with their conversations and impeding my ability to be a pedestrian.

    Whew. Thanks.

  8. Lalit, check out meemo. It’s a push email service that works on any phone. Uses text messaging for alerts and one click from the message takes you to the inbox on your phone. It’s also about 1/4 the price of BlackBerry service.

  9. Elizabeth Safran

    Ugh, I was like that and just the thought of it makes me cringe. In fact, I was proud of it — Take that compulsive behavior and apply it to a different activity and 7 out of 10 times its linked to socially deviant (or just incredibly selfish) behavior. But that’s just me — go ahead and check your email on the beach if you want — I’m hitting the waves!

  10. I thought I was alone in checking email from the bathroom sink at conferences. And in restaurants. That’s one reason I liked the Blackberry better than my iPhone; it was less obvious when I did it. That big lit screen is a dead giveaway, especially in a movie.

  11. Paul J

    I’m not American but even I know that in your map you’ve got Atlanta in Alabama, Washington in Delaware, and Seattle in Spokane. Check Google Maps on your wireless handheld. ;)

    Back to the point of your article though, I sometimes get panic attacks if I forget to bring my blackberry with while away from a computer.

  12. Europeanguy

    I wonder if I’m the only one who DREADS checking their e-mail? Checking it on a mobile device? No way, I’d rather not check it at all.