For last 30 years, most popular computer application on Internet has been email. 30 Years? Yes. The first email application was built in 1971 and upgraded in 1972. With upgrade, email became a widely used and really popular computer application. But, 30 years? Yes indeed. Don't take my word for it, check out "Hobbes' Internet Timeline - Definitive ARPAnet and Internet History" at:
Granted, most of us had never heard much if anything at all about Internet until mid 1990's. The world's first Internet "browser" was released in 1993, it was called Mosaic. Until release of Mosaic, net was strictly for nerds, government employees and university's. The net was restricted to command line use of email, document storage and databases. With release of Mosaic, web finally had a visual interface.
1993 was year that flood gates began to open. With Mosaic coming online, White House finally got its own domain at: http://www.WhiteHouse.gov
and Bill Clinton became first U.S. President ever to have his own email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Though technology and speed of Internet has constantly changed throughout last 30 years, one thing has not changed, popularity of email.
"Email is one of 'Killer Apps' of computer world. Email is most successful communications technology since television, and in a few years will even surpass that. There are currently more than 891 million email accounts in use Worldwide and 440 million in U.S. alone - with an average of more than 4 email accounts per person." (Messaging Today - 2000 Electronic Mailbox Report - Feb. 21, 2001)
The top providers for email service in world today are Hotmail (with 86 million users), Yahoo (with 53 million users) and AOL (with 30 million users).
Email has become so popular that in 1998, Hollywood made a movie about two people who used email to get to know one another and fall in love. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan starred in hit movie "You've Got Mail," named for most cherished voice message on AOL service. http://youvegotmail.warnerbros.com/
Statistics show that majority of people check their email first before they do anything else. In fact, people spend vast majority of their time online reading and answering emails.
While managing multiple email accounts might seem like biggest challenge facing Internet users today, it is not. The biggest challenge is having one computer and a household full of people who want to check their email. I run a business online, but if I do not give computer up to my wife once in awhile, I would not want to live in my house anymore.
Remember when AOL decided to give their customers seven accounts so that everyone in family could have their own email address and profile? At first it seemed like a good idea... Then it started... Now you have four people standing behind you begging to check their email! And joy of AOL, you have to log off of one account to check email from another account. What a bear.