Who's the biggest U.S. e-mail service of them all? (Hint: It's not Gmail)

Who's the biggest U.S. e-mail service of them all? (Hint: It's not Gmail)

Summary: On the day Facebook is expected to throw its hat into the crowded and competitive e-mail ring, it's worth noting what the current landscape looks like.

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On the day Facebook is expected to throw its hat into the crowded and competitive e-mail ring, it's worth noting what the current landscape looks like.

Compete.com recently published stats on e-mail market share, based on U.S. Internet users' engagement with web-based email clients.

Who's the biggest of them all? It's Yahoo. And No. 2 is Microsoft with Hotmail.

From a November 11 post on the Compete.com site (which I saw via Liveside.Net):

"Based on unique visitors from the US IBP (internet browsing population), Gmail doesn’t even hold a candle to Hotmail (94% larger than Gmail) and Yahoo Mail (190% larger). Gmail’s buzz is obviously much larger than it’s bite."

It's interesting to see many press and bloggers claim that Facebook's main target with its expected e-mail entry is Gmail (a distant number three in Compete's stats). It's also interesting to consider how the Hotmail team views the increasing cooperation between Facebook and Microsoft -- especially if Facebook does end up announcing today that it will be offering Facebook e-mail customers the ability to view and edit Microsoft Office Web Apps documents from inside their inbox. That's a capability that is currently offered only via Hotmail.

Update: Yes, Office Web App integration is part of the new Facebook e-mail (that Facebook officials say isn't email.)

In my most recent monthly column at Redmond Magazine, I noted that there's a tug-of-war happening inside Microsoft. On one side are those who believe that making Microsoft products and services available on as many platforms as possible is the way to win. On the other are those who believe that software and services are the company's greatest assets and should be treated as incentives for Microsoft-centric users. Office Web Apps inbox integration is a prime example of this battleground.

Stay tuned for an update on what Facebook actually does announce later today....

Related reading: E-mail mania: Why does everyone want to be your inbox?

Topics: Collaboration, Browser, Cloud, Google

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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48 comments
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  • Yes, but...

    1. What is the growth rate of Yahoo vs. Hotmail vs. Gmail?
    2. How many of those Yahoo accounts are being actively used for e-mail? We have 1-2 Yahoo accounts, required for Yahoo group membership, but never use them for e-mail.
    techvet
    • RE: Who's the biggest U.S. e-mail service of them all? (Hint: It's not Gmail)

      @techvet 1) valid point. We really don't know. 2) The chart is based on unique hits for September. If the account isn't being actively used, how likely is the user to hit mail.yahoo.com?
      ericesque
      • Gmail turned 'Conversations' on/off

        @ericesque---yes, interesting point. I too maintain a mostly unused yahoo.ca. Too glitchy for me.
        I was primarily using yahoo and hotmail, till google FINALLY allowed the 'conversations', or threading/unthreading feature to be turned on/off. Now I can use gmail and hotmail primarily.
        PreachJohn
      • What most don't realize...

        @ericesque
        ...is that many ISPs outsource their email offering to Yahoo. For instance, AT&T's DSL services point to pop.att.yahoo.com and smtp.att.yahoo.com.
        Wolfie2K3
    • RE: Who's the biggest U.S. e-mail service of them all? (Hint: It's not Gmail)

      @techvet Another point to make is that most xbox live users also have a Hotmail account. That probably accounts for a large chunk of their clients.
      Greenman76
      • RE: Who's the biggest U.S. e-mail service of them all? (Hint: It's not Gmail)

        @Greenman76
        The data is based on unique hits to the web mail service's URL. An xbox user who doesn't use his hotmail for email isn't likely to hit that address.
        ericesque
    • RE: Who's the biggest U.S. e-mail service of them all? (Hint: It's not Gmail)

      @techvet On that note as well, Yahoo requires you to sign up for a Yahoo Email account whenever you use their services, even their Webmaster Tools, etc. Unlike Google, to where you can use any email address to sign up for an account. Take away all those null Yahoo email addresses, and it would prove to be a very different scope.
      lividcreature
      • RE: Who's the biggest U.S. e-mail service of them all? (Hint: It's not Gmail)

        @lividcreature
        Yet another brainiac! That's why the data is based on unique hits to the web mail's URL for the month of September.
        ericesque
      • RE: Who's the biggest U.S. e-mail service of them all? (Hint: It's not Gmail)

        @lividcreature
        Another one with blinders on. What made gmail so populer in the first place?? UNLIMITED STORAGE not email. I have 2 gmail accounts that i use for storage, nothing else well except for the 100,s of spam messages i get. which was getting spammed the second day i made the acount BTW.
        Dont throw stones when you live in a glass house
        Stan57
    • RE: Who's the biggest U.S. e-mail service of them all? (Hint: It's not Gmail)

      @techvet
      I have 2 gmail accounts that i do not use for sending/receiving email what so ever. I use it for storage,nothing else. Did you take in account those of use that have gmail accounts but don't send email?? like you did for yahoo?? just a little biased??
      Stan57
  • RE: Who's the biggest U.S. e-mail service of them all? (Hint: It's not Gmail)

    Yahoo is the biggest webmail provider; it's also a failing company. Doesn't that say something about the importance of webmail services?
    bentoth
    • RE: Who's the biggest U.S. e-mail service of them all? (Hint: It's not Gmail)

      @bentoth While it could mean that mail doesn't bridge to other services, it could also be an indicator of how people don't like to change email services. Seeing as how Yahoo mail is littered with advertisement, Yahoo probably sees a lot of their revenue coming in from users that simply don't want to change their email address. The importance could be stable recurring ad revenue.
      ericesque
    • RE: Who's the biggest U.S. e-mail service of them all? (Hint: It's not Gmail)

      @bentoth

      Yes it does. Someone who has the right email service has the potential to capture part of the 44% market share that yahoo holds now.

      But may be thats not what you were hinting at.
      mKind
    • RE: Who's the biggest U.S. e-mail service of them all? (Hint: It's not Gmail)

      @bentoth
      Oh you have data that says yahoo mail is failing? How about sharing with us all?
      Stan57
  • bias of tech bloggers

    So many tech bloggers are so biased against microsoft and so giddy over Google. Hence Gmail gets hyped endlessly and MS gets the shaft. (Yahoo too as you never hear much about them anymore.)
    otaddy
    • MS deserves the shaft...

      @otaddy ...but I prefer GMX mail. Much better than GMail.
      james.vandamme
  • RE: Who's the biggest U.S. e-mail service of them all? (Hint: It's not Gmail)

    Stats look right to me. Quite a few people I know have yahoo email addresses. And hotmail, well you could have expected them to be #2, although I thought they would be #1 due to the many years they've been around and one of the first to offer webmail.
    Loverock Davidson
  • Gmail...ugh.

    Gmail has a big problem.. it is run by Google. People simply don't want to trust them with privacy related services. They keep handing out your email address and invading the inbox with stuff like Google Buzz... Many just switched back over to yahoo mail. Of course, we don't EVER want to change email addresses...that is also a contributor.. but I just went back to primarily using the Yahoo Mail account when Buzz took over without warning... It was simple enough. Yahoo's Mail client is just as good anyway.
    condelirios
    • Buzz kill

      @condelirios Yup. Buzz was the last straw for me too. I disabled it as fast as I could and suffered through a few months on old hotmail before the summer update. Boy was that a breath of fresh air! I've hardly touched anything Google since.
      ericesque
  • RE: Who's the biggest U.S. e-mail service of them all? (Hint: It's not Gmail)

    Interesting stats. Wonder if/how they might count the number of clients that utilize Outlook Hotmail Connector? I prefer it to straight up web access as it integrates nicely into a consolidated UI for viewing all of my email accounts including Exchange, and works well for online/offline usage.
    Wolf_Lodge