According to a survey recently published by Return Path, the percentage of emails being accessed on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, is growing rapidly.
The survey found an increase of approximately 81 percent in mobile devices' share of email access from October 2010 to March 2011.
As of March, approximately 16 percent of emails were accessed via mobile devices, up from approximately 9 percent in October.
The largest portion of emails were accessed through web-based interfaces, at 48 percent, followed by desktop email clients, at 36 percent. While these two modes of email access were more popular than smartphones, their shares declined by 4 percent and 2 percent, respectively.
Bryan Dreller, senior product manager at Return Path, told Direct Marketing News the researchers were surprised by the rate at which the mobile email market expanded between surveys.
"I think what really surprised us is the very rapid growth in mobile as a proportion of all platforms," Dreller said. "I don't think we expected to see that in just a six-month period, mobile viewership relative to its peers would nearly double."
Dreller further noted that, although the survey examined more than 130 million emails, it may actually be biased against mobile email. This, he explained, is because the sample pool was made up of emails that included images. Some feature phones cannot read such emails and, as a result, would have been left out of the survey's findings, despite the fact that owners of such phones may well use them regularly for email.
The explosive growth in mobile email access has important implications for data protection and privacy. While being able to access emails on the move is valuable for productivity, it may also expose businesses to new vulnerabilities. For example, individual workers' devices may not be equipped with mechanisms for protecting against spam and viruses.