E-mail is 81 times bigger than snail mail, but most is spam

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The 2009 e-mail versus snail mail numbers are something like 14.4 trillion e-mail to 177 billion postal letters and packages in the United States, according to Royal Pingdom. That means there was 81 times more e-mail sent than snail mail last year. Those numbers equate to 39.6 billion e-mails sent per day and 485 million letters/packages sent each day. Thanks to the Internet, e-mail has won.

Unfortunately, the numbers are no longer positive if you zero in on spam. Only 19 percent of e-mails sent are legitimate, while the remaining 81 percent is all junk mail. That means only 2.736 trillion e-mails are real, while 11.664 trillion are advertisements and other crap. Contrast this with snail mail: over half is legitimate. 53 percent is wanted mail and 47 percent is unwanted. In raw numbers, that means 93.81 billion letters are warranted while 83.19 billion are not. Royal Pingdom has done the research and the math, and put it all in the infographic after the jump.

There is a small inaccuracy to remember though: the numbers are estimates for 2009, with the one exception being the share of junk snail mail, which is from 2005. Even so, we doubt that over the last four years the share for snail mail has managed to get worse than the one for e-mail. If anything, it's improved as businesses move online and spam us there.


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