It's all about the instant gratification. Give a teen the option of a penny text message or a free e-mail and you'll be lucky if they've stuck around long enough to hear the second option. Business 2.0 waxes on a recent ComScore Media Metrix report that says teen use of e-mail dropped 8% last year.
So what, you ask? Well, as Michal Lev-Ram puts it, "[e]ven if e-mail becomes less popular, that's a troublesome trend for operators of Web portals like Yahoo, Google, AOL, and Microsoft. All of them offer free, Web-based e-mail to draw users back to their Web sites on a regular basis. If teens log on to check e-mail once daily, rather than several times throughout the day, that will be a major hit to their traffic."
Add that to Slate's recent doomsday article about the less-than-spectacular second quarters of Yahoo!, eBay, Amazon and AOL and you've got some dour-looking people on Madison Avenue and Wall Street.
But, hey, chin up -- figure out how to advertise within these crazy kids' IM and text messages and you got yourself gold mine: in the first three months of 2006, Verizon users alone generated nearly 10 billion text messages.