11 March 2008

All your mails are belong to Y!

I am a heavy email user, but my mail exchanges are usually either in geek circles, the business area or both, so my usual data is not a good sample. But recently I was involved in a project (website) which deals with a completely different demographic group: women watching specific TV shows (soap operas, talk shows) or reading specific press and who happen to have access to a computer, either at work or at home, but don't understand, and don't want to understand the technology. Pretty much the mainstream public.

Not much to my surprise, I saw the statistics with hard numbers about how the Yahoo mail reigns supreme on this group: over 90% (in my sample it was ~92%) of those people use Yahoo as an email provider (those are personal email addresses), any other provider is just statistical noise. Some of those people give an IM address as their contact address (sometime in addition of email, sometime instead of) and those are always Yahoo! Messenger addresses.

I checked my findings with a friend of mine, he also work with mainstream, non-geek audience (he run an online store, but not sell technology products, only contact lenses) and he has similar numbers but from both men and women.

The conclusion from this is that on the home/personal area, Yahoo Mail is almost a monopoly on the Romanian email and IM market.

Talking about this with my friend, the discussion got inevitably to the topic of Microsoft's intention of buying Yahoo. While my friend,a fervent Debian user, is delighted by this perspective, he hates Yahoo with a passion after a lot of problems with email delivery to his Yahoo using customers (he says something like: I want Yahoo to die, even if Microsoft is the one that kills them), I am scared as hell by the idea of being forced in a Microsoft email and IM realm too (I am also not an Yahoo fan, but I use some of their services but no Microsoft service).


  1. Oh, Hotmail and MSN Messenger already have a near-monopoly in the Netherlands. I don't see why it'd be worse than a Yahoo! monopoly, but yeah, it sucks.

  2. In interesting to see how each country has usually its own monopoly in the area: some uses MSN, other Yahoo! and other ICQ (yes, there are regions where people still use ICQ).
    Is the network effect: you are forces to use the same communication service as the people around you.

  3. It's very interesting indeed, though I'd rather have a Google near-monopoly, so I could use a Jabber account with XMPP.
    Speaking of Google, it has been interesting to see how it has managed to snoop away market share in both the IM and email world, the former thanks to a tie-in with the latter.
    I do hope open standards are going to play a bigger role everywhere, because it can reduce the network effect and vendor lock-in.

  4. I struggled to get some of my contacts to move to Jabber (be it GTalk or something else) but with little success: they have a lot of contacts on Y!M and won't go to a multiprotocol client like Pidgin due to its lack of voice/webcam support (and until very recently, broken file transfer with Y!M).

  5. "he also work with mainstream, non-geek audience (he run an online store, but not sell technology products, only contact lenses"
    after all these years how can you make such mistakes? i don't get it