April 21, 2005
Gmail, I Don’t Get It, Part III
This is the third in a somewhat drawn-out series of postings on Gmail featuring some interesting data from Return Path’s Email Change of Address service, which captures self-reported address change data from nearly 1 million consumers every month.
The first posting, back when Gmail launched nearly a year ago, was that I didn’t understand the fuss. This is even more true now that Yahoo is in a “free storage” war with Google.
The second, in November, had some change of address stats reporting that the numbers of people joining Gmail was tiny relative to other ISPs…and also that Gmail was starting to have people switch away from it, but only at the rate of about 1 for every 3 people joining it.
So we have some new updated data now from the first quarter that are even more interesting. First, the number of people joining Gmail seems to have flattened out over the last couple of months. Our metric is about 14,000 in each of the last few months (remember, that’s not the whole number, just 14,000 out of our 1 million). But the flattening is the highlight. There’s still the same competitive set — lots of Hotmail churn, some Yahoo, very little from AOL and other providers.
Here’s the kicker, though. At least within our data set, we actually saw more people LEAVE Gmail than join Gmail in February and March. That surprised me quite a bit. One side note, about 9% of the change volume for Gmail is people changing from one Gmail account to another.
Is Gmail in trouble? I doubt it. But I do continue to wonder if they’ll ever be able to achieve the market share in email that people predicted at the beginning of Gmail.