Views expressed here are mine alone
The first telegram in the United States was sent by Morse on 11 January 1838- replacing the more costly, inefficient & time consuming ‘Pony Express’ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pony_Express_Poster.jpg).
The Telegram stood for technological centralization, and any tech centralization that inconveniences or limits a fundamental consumer need, must ultimately go. What do I mean by tech centralization & it’s inconveniences?
1. You needed experts to be able to send and receive a telegram. A layman couldn’t do it, because it was not ‘simple’ enough, needed specialized know-how
2. Hence, the customer needed to go to the telegram center…..The telegram could not ‘travel’ to the customer, in other words, there was no means of initiating a telegram by the customer as per his convenience- from where he wanted, when he wanted
3. There were severe limitations to the ‘comprehensiveness’ of the message – limited text & size
4. There was no personal touch, no customization and certainly no interactivity of communication
5. While the telegram was a huge leap over the next best alternatives like the ‘Pony Express’, reducing the delivery time drastically, it still was not fast enough – especially from the telegram center to the recipient.
Most technologies, when they arrive, come in a centralized form. The first computers were huge, centralized machines run from specialists. Today, anyone can get more computing power on a $199 tablet than the first computer had- & a two year old uses it with the ease of a digital native!
While telegram will survive as an extremely niche service (check out this one: http://www.telegramstop.com/), the real reason why email wins over the telegram is not the cost per message, but the decentralization of technology that allows even a child to send a message from the comfort of his home, at the swirl of his finger.
In the consumer marketplace, that advantage wins hands on- every single time.
Its only a matter of time.