Well, it’s happened. Google, with the help of Gmail, has become the largest provider of e-mail on the Internet, unseating previous champ Hotmail. Seeing as Hotmail first launched in 1996, and Gmail in 2004 (public in 2007), this is quite an accomplishment.
Time for some numbers, which reveal a lot more than first meets the eye. As of January, Gmail had a total active user count of 350 million, which has since risen to 425 million. However, where unique users are concerned, the numbers paint a slightly different picture. There, Hotmail still reigns supreme, with 325 million, while Yahoo! hits second with 298 million and Gmail third with 289 million. So, what’s the deal there?
My personal theory is that people like to keep their digital lives as neat as possible, and this is easier done with multiple e-mail addresses. I personally have two Gmail accounts; one that acts as a “do whatever with” account, the other acting as my primary. This isn’t something Google minds you do; the company even allows you to run multiple accounts at the same time. Most people I know who use Gmail have more than one account there, so I’m certainly not alone.
It can be argued that at the end of the day, Gmail is just the better e-mail service. I’ve had issues with Hotmail in the past, especially where e-mail filtering is concerned, while Gmail is about as “no BS” as you can get. Though I’ve never been one to jump on the Google bandwagon, I’ve moved completely over to Gmail in recent months just because I need a reliable service – one I know is going to work and not eat up my e-mails at random. Plus, the mobile app support is hard to beat.
This makes me curious. If you’re on Hotmail or Yahoo!, what keeps you there? The same question could be applied to Gmail, though I’d have to imagine the number of people moving from either Hotmail or Yahoo! to Gmail would dwarf the number moving from Gmail to another mail service (speculation, of course).