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  #1  
Old 06-01-2006, 07:00 PM
Janak Parekh
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Default Modern Nomads: "The (non)sense of push communication"

<div class='os_post_top_link'><a href='http://www.modernnomads.info/articles/read.php?article_id=7' target='_blank'>http://www.modernnomads.info/articl...hp?article_id=7</a><br /><br /></div><i>"Push e-mail seems to have become the holy grail of mobile computing. In the US, Blackberry is a huge success, and now other players in the mobile arena see it as the feature to have as well. Regardless if we want it, new devices will be equiped with push e-mail. But is it desirable to have push e-mail in the first place? And what is the business value of push e-mail? In this article we try to address these questions."</i><br /><br />Jaap van Ekris makes an interesting post on his new site, Modern Nomads. He decries the recent obsession in the Windows Mobile and other communities about the notion of push email, and argues it's not really necessary in most instances. I agree that <i>some</i> users don't really need it, and carry the Blackberry either as an addiction or a status symbol. However, I don't agree with all of his points, and I find push email to be an invaluable tool for me. Here's my interpretation of his points, and a brief rebuttal for each. What do you think? <!><br />
  • <li> <b>Push email was developed instead of SMS.</b> Jaap correctly notes that Blackberries are far more popular in the US, and hypothesizes it was developed as an alternative to SMS, as US SMS capability was limited to single-carrier messaging for years. While this is true to some extent, I don't agree that this is the main reasoning for Blackberry's success. SMS is a relatively limited chat mechanism; Blackberries support a more generalized email infrastructure, and early Blackberry adopters were predominantly business -- it was too expensive for consumers -- whereas SMS was clearly targeted to a consumer audience first and foremost. Early Blackberry adoption in North America comes from the fact that RIM is a North American company, and first adopted technologies like Mobitex, which were broadly deployed in North America at the time.<br /><br /><li> <b>Push email is based on a flawed mechanism -- email -- and is bandwidth-hungry to boot.</b> Jaap points out that email is frequently lost in spam, delayed due to server issues, etc. While this can be true, I think it's not germane to the push discussion -- what push provides is a desktop-like latency to email on the handheld device, nothing more, nothing less. I've got effective spam filtering, and Microsoft <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/exchange/downloads/2003/imf/default.mspx">even offers spam filtering for free</a> in Exchange 2003. I also find email surprisingly reliable, much more so than his argument suggests. His discussion about bandwidth use is certainly true, but I believe it'll be a moot point as more and more carriers around the world adopt unlimited bandwidth. All of the US carriers offer it now, and European carriers are starting to offer it as well.<br /><br /><li> <b>Push email creates a must-reply culture.</b> The article mentions that as a result of push, you've got tons of email, both urgent and non-urgent, pushed to your device -- and people expect immediate replies if they know you're being pushed. To me, this depends on the setup and the corporate culture in which it's being deployed. I use a ton of filters to make sure only 30-40 messages get pushed to my 700w each day, and 99% of them are read-only; I have the <i>option</i> to reply, and do not suggest that I have the <i>obligation</i> to reply. This eliminates a lot of the stress implied by Jaap. I do accept that this is not true for everyone, and for those who are stuck in a situation where they <i>must</i> reply to their Blackberry, that sucks. :| On the other hand, give me push email <i>any day</i> over the old culture of constantly calling someone. At least with email, I don't have to answer the call or check my voicemail to see what the topic of discussion is about! I find voice calling to be a <b>much</b> more stressful interruption of my daily flow. Voice calling is also less useful when more than two parties are involved.<br /><br /><li> <b>Push email is useless for business -- but push appointments are useful.</b> Jaap notes that Exchange supports the pushing of updated contacts, calendar, tasks, and email; he thinks the former are far more useful, especially the calendar updates. Me, I love all of them. The main reason for push for me is not the immediate reading and answering of email -- it's the ability to, <i>at a glance at any point during the day</i>, get an up-to-date snapshot of goings-on. For example, if I'm at lunch and am waiting for a response from an important contact, I can momentarily glance at my Treo and decide whether I should cut short my lunch or continue at a leisurely pace. To me, that is <b>enhancing</b> my lifestyle, not making it worse. Manually polling was a far worse solution.
My conclusion? Jaap's points are not without merit -- but to me, push email is a tool; it depends on <b>how you use it</b>. Like any new technology, there is the opportunity for abuse, but I also strongly believe there is the opportunity for great benefit. It's more than belief, in fact; I benefit via push's availability every day.
 
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Old 06-02-2006, 03:26 AM
SteveHoward999
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Simply put - there is a small number of people who truly need it - people who really do need to be able to recieve email whereever they are. Where the 'need' falls down, of course, is that the email cannot be guaranteeed to arrive in a timely manner, nor can any reply to it ...

A friend of mine - he ran a sandwich shop - once asked me if I could help him set up a system whereby his customers could order their lunchtime sandwiches by email. I told him it was a great idea, but he would run into issues from the small percentage of mails that never arrive on time, or never arrive at all. He eventually agreed to a 'proper' form-based web page. Much more reliable - if not totally 100% reliable, certaily closer than email.

I check my email when it suits me - when I am at my desk, or when I have a spare moment (OK I admot it I am an addict and may well check email on my PDA at 4am if I am awake ...). If I had push email, I would feel obliged to read it there and then. Probably would feel obliged to respond to it straight away too. Which is bad if you are at the movies, driving the car, talking to your bank manager etc. Yes we all know "well turn it off then" ... so why do all these people use their phones at the movies, driving the car, talking to the bank manager etc ...
 
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Old 06-02-2006, 04:45 AM
Eriq Cook
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Ok, let's be real here. Is "push email" really necessary? I have my MDA set to send/receive email every 10 minutes. A 10 minute difference isn't going to make or break my business. I can see if you're a doctor, or any other profession where 5-10 minutes can save a contract or a life. But in most business scenarios, I can't see why push email is really THAT necessary.

Eventually in the near future all mobile devices will have a form of push email, and that's cool. I'm not complaining about that. But to make an argument that it's necessary in an industry where its really not, well...I think it's over-hyped to be quite honest.
 
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Old 06-02-2006, 11:44 AM
msafi
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About 3 years ago, I had my SE P900 setup to download new emails every 15 mins. It was very reliable and a 15 mins delay is fine by me. Clearly, instantaneous notification is more desirable, but it isn't really that much more critical.

To me, the real value of push email can come from replacing Instant Messaging. Will it every do that?
 
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Old 06-02-2006, 01:30 PM
CoreyJF
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eriqc
Ok, let's be real here. Is "push email" really necessary? I have my MDA set to send/receive email every 10 minutes. A 10 minute difference isn't going to make or break my business. I can see if you're a doctor, or any other profession where 5-10 minutes can save a contract or a life. But in most business scenarios, I can't see why push email is really THAT necessary.

Eventually in the near future all mobile devices will have a form of push email, and that's cool. I'm not complaining about that. But to make an argument that it's necessary in an industry where its really not, well...I think it's over-hyped to be quite honest.
Necessary and useful are two different beasts. None of it is necessary. Of course not every person needs it; there are actually people out there that donít need email at all. The more the work force becomes less tethered to their desks, the more valuable of a tool push becomes. There are a lot of businesses that 15 minutes will make a huge difference. 5 minutes can provide a competitive advantage.
 
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  #6  
Old 06-02-2006, 06:36 PM
Janak Parekh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoreyJF
Necessary and useful are two different beasts.
That's my opinion too. I lived without it for years; I could certainly live without it if I had to. But now that I have it, it's great that I can pick up my Pocket PC and immediately see an accurate snapshot of my Inbox.

And, in my work (academia), there are times where emails are used in lieu of IM or phone calls, so it becomes very useful -- and, since most such emails are intra-organization, delivery is extremely reliable.

--janak
 
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Old 06-06-2006, 04:19 PM
wshwe
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I much prefer email over voice mail. Gmail allows me to quickly search my messages from any web-enabled device. With Gmail I keep every message I have the least bit of interest in. I wind up writing less down. I can easily copy and paste meeting details and flight schedules to my calendar.
 
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Old 06-06-2006, 10:46 PM
TMann
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eriqc
I have my MDA set to send/receive email every 10 minutes. A 10 minute difference isn't going to make or break my business.
As I understand it, one of the benefits of "push" e-mail is that it is much more battery friendly than having your PDA "log-on" to your e-mail server multiple times an hour to download the new messages. Am I misunderstanding how this works?

In any case, I think that "push" e-mail capabilities are a nice feature to have on a device, just like bluetooth, wi-fi, a good thumboard, etc. It's not an absolute necessity for me, but it works well for me on my Treo and I'm glad that I have it.

TMann
 
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  #9  
Old 06-07-2006, 04:30 AM
Janak Parekh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TMann
As I understand it, one of the benefits of "push" e-mail is that it is much more battery friendly than having your PDA "log-on" to your e-mail server multiple times an hour to download the new messages. Am I misunderstanding how this works?
It's not such an easy comparison. Idle data connections, while not very battery-intensive, are more intensive than completely idling mobile devices. Additionally, MSFP push makes sure to contact the server every 20 minutes to make sure its data connection didn't go dead. Therefore, checking every 20 minutes uses less battery than push; every 10 minutes may be a crapshoot; and every 5 minutes probably uses more. Additionally, if you receive 10 emails 1 minute apart, it's more efficient to check them in one batch then receive them individually.

Quote:
In any case, I think that "push" e-mail capabilities are a nice feature to have on a device, just like bluetooth, wi-fi, a good thumboard, etc. It's not an absolute necessity for me, but it works well for me on my Treo and I'm glad that I have it.
Ditto.

--janak
 
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  #10  
Old 06-07-2006, 05:15 AM
Sven Johannsen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eriqc
I can see if you're a doctor, or any other profession where 5-10 minutes can save a contract or a life.
If you were my doctor, and 5 or 10 minutes was going to make a difference, I wouldn't e-mail you about it.

I'm in the 'what's the big deal camp'. If it's that darned urgent, call me. I agree that a call is more intrusive than an e-mail...but if it's that darned important...intrude. Otherwise, 10 - 15 minute pulls should do it.

My only gripe with push e-mail is a feeling that it was produced at the expense of other things that made more sense...to me. AS that was reliable, WiFi sync that was secure (instead of gone), a connection manager that made sense, Pocket Powerpoint that included editing, OneNote Mobile that supported ink, a BT stack with a few more profiles.... BUT...having push e-mail, pushes forward the platform, because we think, or they told us, we need it. Now we have it too, and it's better than the other one. Makes the platform more competitive, and that's a good thing. Now how about fixing the rest of the stuff...no, no, not new stuff...fix stuff.
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