Email and webmail statistics

Those preparing introductory presentations on email often need background statistics on email usage and the popularity of different webmail services. The following compilation of numbers and anecdotal evidence offers some help...

Webmail users

There are no uniform statistics comparing the user numbers of the different web-based email address providers. Nevertheless, there is enough information available to make some statements about the popularity of different services.

The big three are Microsoft's Hotmail (now called Windows Live Hotmail), Yahoo! Mail and Gmail, together accounting for well over 1 billion users.

For a long time, Hotmail led Yahoo, with Gmail a distant third. But recent numbers suggest Gmail has caught up with (and possibly overtaken) its two rivals.

The details...

Gmail:

Hotmail:

Note that Microsoft recently announced Outlook.com, which seems set to be their "webmail" service of the future.

Yahoo! Mail:

Email service provider MailChimp publishes the total number of emails they send to each of the major email address providers. The results for July 2011 saw Hotmail and Gmail addresses as the most "popular" in mailing lists, closely followed by Yahoo! Mail, with AOL way behind.

Data from competitive intelligence service Hitwise from June 2012 indicates the most popular email websites (based on US Internet usage) were Gmail followed by Yahoo! Mail (see current rankings.)

Interestingly, the data also suggests that email is a far more important part of the Yahoo empire than Google's. The mail-related domain is the most popular at the Yahoo portal, while Gmail accounts for a small proportion of visits to Google.

Webmail providers like Gmail and Microsoft may also be behind some other domain names, either through POP3 retrieval of email from other accounts or through email hosting services offered to businesses and organizations which retain the latter's domains.

Historical account numbers

In October 2009, email service provider MailChimp analysed the mails sent out by its many clients and found Windows Live Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail fighting it out for the most popular email address provider, followed by Gmail, then AOL.

In July 2009, Comscore reported on unique user traffic for the US only to the big four email domains. Yahoo! Mail attracted 106 million unique US users, Windows Live Hotmail 47 million, Gmail 37 million and AOL Mail 36.4 million.

An April, 2008 USA Today article cited ComScore Media Metrix figures for February, 2008:

Microsoft webmail properties: 256.2 million users
Yahoo: 254.6 million users
Google: 91.6 million users
AOL webmail properties: 48.9 million users

In February, 2008, a Yahoo executive claimed the company served 260 million email users.

In October, 2007, an official Yahoo! blog cited statistics suggesting Yahoo represented 255 million of the world's 543 million webmail accounts.

In a February 2007 company blog, a Senior Product Manager noted that Hotmail had "260+ million existing customers" and a news report from April 2007 states, "Hotmail provides more than 280 million e-mail accounts, 20 million of which are Windows Live Hotmail."

Writing in August, 2007, Microsoft blogger Omar Shahine noted that "...on Windows Live Hotmail we are hosting about 200 million accounts."

A February, 2007 article in TechCrunch gave user numbers for Yahoo! Mail (250 million), Hotmail (228 million) and Gmail (51 million), but did not cite the source of the numbers.

General email usage

There are numerous estimates of typical email use and email traffic from various sources. Here just a few for you:

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project data from May 2011, 92% of adult US Internet users send or read email. The same source suggests that 66% of those email users do so as part of a typical day.

An April 2012 report by technology market research firm The Radicati Group estimates that there are 3.3 billion email accounts in 2012, expected to rise to over 4.3 billion by the end of 2016.

For some unusual interpretations of those usage stats, take a look at the 8 email statistics to use at parties article.

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