How many people still use email?

Many people now think of email as a dead form of communication, seeing it as a 90s era advancement on snail mail. I rarely use my personal email account to actually send mail – instead, I use it to check the many newsletters and emails from mailing lists I’m signed up, so I can see what the latest offers are. Of course, I use my work email address almost constantly for five days a week, so even though I think I’m not sending emails I really am. I imagine this is the case for many people.


It’s undoubtedly easier to text someone than it is to send an email nowadays, but it’s still an important form of communication that shouldn’t be overlooked just because it’s getting on in its years now. Technically, email dates from the 1800s, when people used Morse code to transmit messages to one another.


Nowadays, the three main email providers are Windows Live Hotmail (colloquially known as its former name of Hotmail), Yahoo! Mail and Gmail. There have been many other email providers that have come and gone, but if you have an email in this day and age you likely have an account with one of these three.


Unfortunately, quantifying the exact number of emails being sent by individuals in the entire world isn’t possible, since those figures simply don’t exist. We can see how many customers each of these Big Three have though…


Statistics from 2011 puts Windows Live Hotmail’s customer numbers between 350 and 370 million. That’s a pretty big number! Windows Live Hotmail is definitely the biggest email provider out there, and it’s constantly upgrading its services to lure customers back into sending emails. Not forgetting that you can also use the Windows Live Messenger to IM friends and family.


Yahoo! Mail’s 2011 figures set its customer numbers at 310 million users. So the provider isn’t too far behind Windows Live Hotmail, but it’s still got a fair way to go before it catches up. It also has an IM platform, known as Yahoo! Messenger.


For a long time Gmail was the unwanted guest at the email provider party, lagging behind both Windows Live Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail by a long way. How times have changed though – in January 2012 Gmail reported figures setting its customer levels at 350 million, which clearly edges Yahoo! Mail out of second place. Gmail also has the Google Talk IM software and a voice and video plug-in that you can use through Gmail, iGoogle, and orkut, so it’s definitely one-upped Windows Live Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail on that front.


Interestingly, data collected from the Internet and American Life Project in 2011 stated that 92% of adults in the USA send or receive email on a regular basis; so far more people than we think are still using their email accounts.


Do you think email is still as popular as it was a few years ago?


James Pritchard is a freelancer with an interest in internet communication, particularly email marketing.

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