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Now think about how often you need to see a message immediately or the world will end. How many of those times will somebody trust such a critical message only to e-mail, where it can get caught up by a spam filter or lost in the general clutter of your inbox? Using one of the most congested communications mediums available for the most urgent notices imaginable doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me; if you want to get somebody’s attention instantly, you pick up the phone and call them.

Then consider how you process incoming e-mail. Pushing a message to your screen can’t push it into your brain. If you can react and respond to each new e-mail as it arrives, you have a lot more free time than I do. Me, I usually wait until I have an idle moment to scan over the latest batch of new messages, then delete, file or answer them as necessary. – Rob Pegoraro, WashingtonPost.com

I moved away from automatic email notifications long ago, and I couldn’t be happier. All my email clients (including iPhone) are set to check manually. I check my email when I’m ready to check email. And since my email accounts are all IMAP, my inbox and folders stay up to date between email clients.

As a long-time (and long-suffering) .Mac fan, I’m excited to see how MobileMe changes the way I work, but push email isn’t a feature for Me.

Interestingly, Mr. “Inbox Zero” Merlin Mann is all over the pushiness.

3 Responses to “Who Needs “Push” E-Mail?”

  1. Rob says:

    I’ll tell you where push email has it’s place: in the hands of network administrators and many other types of IT workers.

    If a server goes down or encounters a critical problem, I need to know about it that second. I can’t wait 5 or 15 minutes or even manually to check for email alerts. This is why I still have a Blackberry and not a 1st gen iPhone.

    Also, think of an IT group that needs to monitor emails for trouble tickets and the likes. If a matter is so urgent, would it really be best to call one person, or email a group of 5 people at once who will all get notified right away on their devices?

    There is definitely a place for push email. It just comes down to occupation and purpose.

  2. Podophile says:

    Yes, you’re absolutely right. There’s no question that many professionals live and die by their ability to react to information quickly, and push email is a necessity. I guess I was thinking more about push email “for the rest of us.” For most people, I suspect their .Mac (or Me.com) email address will be their personal email account, and for personal email I see the potential for distraction far outweighing the benefits of instant notification.

    Maybe I’m out of the mainstream on this. Maybe I get more email than most people. Maybe I just like to be left alone.

    Whatever the case, I’ll probably be addicted to push email by August.

  3. Push e-mail isn’t as much a big deal as push calendering and contacts. It makes syncing them a much easier process. It’s these two items that will get me to subscribe to Mobile Me.