Luddite rhetorical questions of necessity have no place in a forum for mobile technology. We should be asking “can we” rather than “should we”, and if the answer is yes, then we should do it, not for the reasons we know, but for the reasons we don’t know.
There are excellent papers written about the erroneously perceived correlation between the increased speed of communication and increase in productivity and how there in fact is no proof that we today get more work done than an era where the fax machine was the most advanced piece of technology in an office, and we can easily trace our footsteps backwards and question every technological advance, but such a narrow and narcissistic perspective could be fatal in the business world, it doesn’t really matter if we really need instant (push) email, because your competitor will get it, and all other things being equal, and admittedly somewhat hypothetical, those 14 minutes saved could turn out to be camel back breaking straws.
I could argue that the difference in push and pull email could be up to 29 minutes assuming a dialog of email received, email read, email answered, email sent, email received back and how much can happen in those 29 minutes, but it’s a highly contested argument as seen in the posts above, and more importantly, it completely misses the point.
If we focus our efforts on discussing minutes saved and lost in push versus pull we are missing the bigger picture. Push email is about elevating email from an unreliable and (relatively) slow medium of communication to the reliable and instant medium it was intended to be. Push email, Blackberrys and its copycats (WM5, OpenHand et al.) are and will continue to change our relationship with email, as fundamentally as GSM (mobiles) changed our relationship with the telephone. Do we (strictly speaking) need a mobile phone? Many asked that question a decade ago, not so many are asking that today.