Just An Online Minute... E-mail Addiction
According to a new survey conducted by America Online, the average e-mail user checks e-mail nearly five times a day. Yes, that's right. AOL's E-mail Addiction survey examines our e-mail behavior and frankly, it's a little obsessive. The survey found that e-mail users rely on e-mail as much as the phone for communication, spend nearly an hour a day on e-mail, and that 77 percent of e-mail users have more than one mail account.
Here are a few of the survey's more interesting findings:
--Forty-one percent of e-mail users check e-mail first thing in the morning, before they've brushed their teeth or trudged to the kitchen to make coffee.
--Forty percent of e-mail users report checking their e-mail in the middle of the night. (Downright obsessive, yes?)
--More than one in four (26 percent) of e-mail users say they haven't gone more than two to three days without checking their e-mail.
--Most e-mail users have two or three e-mail accounts (56 percent). The average user has 2.8 accounts.
--E-mail users check for mail anywhere: In bed in their pajamas (23 percent); in school (12 percent); in business meetings (8 percent); at Wi-Fi hotspots, like Starbuck's or McDonald's (6 percent); at the beach or pool (6 percent); in the bathroom (4 percent); while driving (4 percent); and in church (1 percent).
"Last time I checked God didn't have a Blackberry," says Chamath Palihapitiya, general manager and vice president for AOL's AIM. The survey results, he says, speak "to the fact that e-mail has become such a fundamental way that people communicate. People thought that e-mail was just a business behavior, but it is a social and commonplace behavior."
Palihapitiya says it's the first time AOL has conducted a survey of this kind, probing the actual behaviors and habits of e-mail users. AOL recently launched its e-mail service Web-wide.
"One of the things we took away from this is that people need accessibility everywhere. They may be at home, at a friend's house, at the office, in the street... one of the things we did with our e-mail product is we made sure it was accessible all over the Web," Palihapitiya says, adding "But just as important, we make sure that it works with your work e-mail. We allow you to use Outlook to get your AIM mail."
That's important because the survey finds that 61 percent of all e-mail users check their personal e-mail at work at least three times a day. By syncing with Outlook, AOL mail becomes part of a user's normal work e-mail application. AOL plans to offer mobile e-mail access via Blackberry, mobile phones, and other handheld devices by the fall. AOL says its mail service supports advertising in the body of e-mails. "Our competitors don't do that," Palihapitiya says. It means that embedded ads won't be stripped out when e-mail is delivered in Outlook.
The survey's results, Palihapitiya says, will help AOL develop e-mail features and applications that users may find useful. "One of the things that jumped out of us is that e-mail users are really interested in un-sending a message and knowing when a message has been forwarded." He says in AOL e-mail, a user can un-send right away and check the status of whether mail has been opened. AOL is working on a feature that would notify users as to whether a piece of mail has been forwarded to them.
More survey findings:
--Sixty-one percent of e-mail users check personal e-mail on the job an average of three times a day. About half of those who check personal e-mail at work (47 percent) check it sporadically throughout the day, while about one in four (25 percent) check it first thing when they arrive, 18 percent check it at lunchtime, 8 percent during an afternoon break, and 2 percent right before they head home.
--Women are more likely than men to check their personal e-mail at work throughout the day (50 percent versus 44 percent), while men are more likely than women to check their personal e-mail first thing when they arrive in the morning (28 percent versus 21 percent).
--Six in 10 of all e-mail users (60 percent) check their e-mail while on vacation, mostly for pleasure (47 percent) rather than business (13 percent). Of those who access e-mail while on vacation, 57 percent say it's very (21 percent) or somewhat important (36 percent) that they have access to e-mail.
Get this, AOL has provided a quiz to determine your level of e-mail addiction. It's available later today here.
The survey was conducted with Opinion Research Corp., which conducted online surveys with 4,012 respondents 18 and older in the top 20 cities around the country to measure e-mail usage.