Marissa Mayer’s post didn’t just highlight the consistent look and feel of the new Yahoo! Mail across platforms, but also that the development teams had speed on their mind during the redesign. Handling email should be easier and faster than ever, they promise.
MailChimp has posted an update on their email providers trend: the number of emails their platform sends to each major email provider including AOL, Yahoo, Hotmail/Outlook.com, Comcast and Gmail.
Last year, no less than three of those email providers were running very close to each other: those were Yahoo, Hotmail and Gmail.
However, last month Gmail had over 100 million more active accounts being sent to by MailChimp than Hotmail: quite a big difference! The raw numbers are 536,377,176 for Gmail versus 428,019,961 for Hotmail.
Even AOL has grown by about 40 million, from about 59 million to 98 million last month.
The post does mention to take the numbers not too seriously:
I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out some potential skewing of the numbers. For instance, we only track emails sent to some of the domains used by the email providers. We include hotmail.com and hotmail.co.uk, but not live.com, outlook.com, and some international domains. Google Apps users with private domains aren’t included either. So consider with a grain of chocolate salt — which is delicious, by the way.
Even so, the post does give some insight in the shift in webmail providers’ user base over the past 12 months. I wonder whether Microsoft can turn the tide with Hotmail now rebranded as Outlook.com.
One of the reasons Gmail has been growing so fast could be the number of Android devices being activated on a daily basis, needing a Google account (most of the time created with a Gmail email address): over 400 Million devices have been activated so far, with 1 Million being activated every single day. Wow!
Mozilla has announced that it will stop the development of the Thunderbird email client: the announcement notes that stability, not innovation is the most important factor for the team and the users.
Thunderbird will therefor be provided with security releases in the Extended Support Release process, but no new features will be developed for the email client by the Mozilla team: that innovation part is left to the user community itself.
Some users are saddened by this news, as they don’t trust the cloud based email services that companies like Google (with Gmail) and Microsoft (with Windows Live Hotmail) offer. The email client has about 20 million users: quite a bit smaller than the current biggest web client, Gmail with 425 million. Nevertheless, 20 million is a big number when it comes to an open source, non-promoted piece of software.
The Mozilla development team will be putting their focus on innovation in other products: one of those is the highly anticipated Firefox OS, coming to smartphones early 2013.
Want to read more about Thunderbird? See here and here.
The people over at Liveside.net have gotten their hands on some hi-res screenshots of the new Hotmail interface, which Metro-style design (derived from Windows 8) is consistent with your Microsoft account and profile page.
Below is a small selection of the interface screenshots.
A modern interface: faster and cleaner The simple, fluid and interactive design of Newmail makes it easy to use whether you’re on a desktop, phone or tablet.
Get a Newmail email address for your new inbox You can get a new email address from Newmail. You don’t have to worry about your contacts and previous emails, you’ll keep them. And, you’ll continue receiving messages sent to your current email address.
Bring your inbox to life – Connect Facebook Connect and chat across services like Facebook and Twitter. Keep your contacts information automatically in sync, and see what your friends are up to, right from Newmail.
The interface is optin only from the beginning (expected July/August), so existing users will at first have a choice if they want to switch over or not. Looking at the screenshots, the interface looks cleaner and sleeker than it is now, even though the current Hotmail interface isn’t really that bad.
In case you haven’t noticed, the webmail war seems to be on. Via various strategies the big guys (mainly Microsoft and Google) are battling it out right now for your online webmail choice of GMail vs Hotmail. Be it advertisements, new features or boasting figures: the war is on. This post is meant as an insight webmail update to the current state of online email providers.
First of all, why would there be a webmail ‘war’? Is it even appropriate to call it that? Let’s have a look at official (and not so official) advertisement videos by both companies recently.
Here’s Googles promotional campaign of GMail called ‘Email Intervention”. The tagline: ‘save your friends from outdated email’. The video:
The above video was posted 22nd of July. Remember that date. Now it could be just me, but this seems a straight stab at webmail providers lagging behind, mostly AOL and Yahoo but also Microsoft. GMail has been bouncing around various features maturing in GMail Labs, including stuff like YouTube preview & play within an email, many interface spice ups and Smart labels. However, Microsoft now supports HTML5 video as well as having no trouble doing much of the regular html and css stuff (like css classes, which GMail still lacks).
Also, Microsoft knows how to strike back. Here’s a video called ‘Gmail man’ promoting Microsoft’s Office 365 (not Hotmail, mind you) while mocking GMail’s ad system based on email content. It was shown to the attendees at Microsoft’s annual Global Exchange sales conference earlier this month, notes CNet. Date of posting on YouTube: 28th of July, just 6 days after the Email Intervention campaign start:
Now to get back to the question: why do I feel like a webmail war going on? First of all, the numbers speak, for the bigger part in favor of Google (so far). If you have over a billion users like Google, chances are they will want to use your webmail service like all the other products they are already using like Search, Maps, etc. Secondly, if you buy an Android powered phone, you will eventually have to have a GMail/Google account: bam, new email address. And there are over half a million Android devices activated every day!
Furthermore, lets talk social networks. Everyone’s got to have one or you’ll be the laughing stock of the golf club during the next champagne breakfast. So both Google and Microsoft have one. Google since the 28th of June, and Microsoft’s network… hasn’t launched yet. They couldn’t help but leak something two weeks after the Google+ launch though: see the info on Tulalip here on TechCrunch.
What do social networks have to do with webmail? Simple: without webmail (and email in general) those networks would lose tons of traffic. People are drawn in because of notification emails about updates, friend requests and event alerts. Without those, what would be the point of ‘going’ to a social network if you don’t know what (if anything) is happening? Facebook.com is currently one of the biggest email sending domains worldwide with billions of emails being sent each month!
Traffic is money in the online world, it’s that simple. Lose 10% of your traffic, lose 10% of your revenue. But the big guys want a piece of the traffic pie too: their webmail services can boost ad clicks and other ‘promotions’ too. Let’s put numbers to that traffic. At the request of Mark Brownlow, Mailchimp’s Ben Chestnut recently posted emails sent to subscriber numbers for Hotmail, GMail and other webmail services on their blog. These are the main figures from July 2011:
What do these numbers tell us? Just like Ben notes, it is that GMail has been playing catch up to Hotmail. Don’t forget that Hotmail has nearly twice the amount of total accounts as GMail, but still just only bigger than GMail in terms of ‘active’ addresses. On the usefulness of the data:
I have no idea if the stats are representative of the rest of the industry, to be honest. Stats are usually very suspicious to me, unless there’s an extremely large sample size. In this case, it was several billion outgoing email addresses we tabulated, so I think there’s something useful in there somewhere.
As long as we can’t get any bigger sample size, we are fine with 2 billion sent per month.
Winning, how? And who?
The war is on for dominance on quite some platforms right now, and the stakes are high. The winner will either get a very big slice of the pie, or even put competitors out of business. On the technology front, Microsoft’s Windows Live Hotmail (which is the official name) seems to be winning with the recent HTML5 video support addition and beefed up security features. However, Google isn’t sitting idly playing with Google+. It knows that even though it’s not making a lot of money off GMail (a guesstimate) it’s still a prime service with which a company can win over users. Win the users and win them for more services than just webmail. That’s where the money is (search, ads) so Google will want more people there. In the above numbers from MailChimp they seem to be winning in the active GMail accounts department, and that’s an important factor in my book.
Power to the people
Also, the users (you!) and hopefully marketers will win too: with the recent progress in webmail technology we finally get to have cool stuff in our inboxes, like playing YouTube videos right away without having to leave the inbox, or searching from within an email. Keep those nifty features coming guys!
Did I mention that both companies have browsers too, called Internet Explorer and Chrome? That’s for a future post…