Is voicemail dead?

Studies show voicemail has fallen out of favor with most people. Texting has become more popular. Will email fall by the wayside next?


When was the last time you got a voicemail message? In fact, when was the last time you even checked your voicemail? When I go out of town, I dutifully leave an “away” message on my voicemail, politely notifying callers to leave a message and I’ll return their call as soon as possible. But rarely is a message left. I learned long ago to stop leaving a voicemail message for my kids. They never listen to it. They’ll just call me back or text me asking “what’s up?”

It seems voicemail has fallen out of favor with most people, according to a study prepared for USA TODAY by the Internet phone company, Vonage. The article points out that it’s the process of retrieving voicemails that turns folks off, particularly younger people who find maneuvering through voicemail a hassle. As expected, the study shows that texting and even voice transcription apps are preferred over voicemail communication.

“Texting is the dominant daily mode of communication between teens and all those with whom they communicate,” according to a Pew Research Center study. Teens are receiving around 60 texts a day! That’s a lot of chatter going on.

But adults are not far behind. Pew’s Internet & American Life Project reported that 38 percent of adult cell phone owners said they use their phone to keep themselves occupied during television commercials or breaks. Pew has also found that 83 percent of American adults own cell phones and three-quarters of them (73 percent) send and receive text messages.

I wonder if the next dinosaur will be email? It’s hard to imagine work life without email. Yet, there was a time it was hard to imagine work without administrative assistants leaving you messages on a pink slip and sending a memo through fax.

My guess is that email will stay around, yet evolve just like voicemail is morphing to voice transcription and texting. The cool thing, though, is that we have choices in how information is exchanged. So if you don’t feel like checking your voicemail, don’t worry. Just check your texts or email. I guarantee there’s a message waiting for you there.

A version of this post first appeared on CRT/tanaka’s Buzz Bin.

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