Personally, I don't remember email ever being "sexy", but I agree there is potential at the intersection of email and "social" features
The Internet portals have failed to achieve breakout success with their homegrown social networks -- which let individuals create profile pages, communicate with friends and share photos and other digital content -- at a time when consumers' social-networking use is booming. Yahoo, for one, released a social-networking and blogging service in early 2005 dubbed Yahoo 360 that fell short of expectations. Now the email providers are betting that they'll have more success by adding social-networking features to their email services, which millions of people are already using.
In August, there were 542.9 million users of email that is accessed primarily via Web browsers. That compared with 483.7 million social-networking users world-wide, according to comScore Inc.