Mailchimp sends out an incredible 2 billion emails every month. It is also a freemium service (basic membership is free and there are premium services available). As it is free, open to all and is such a prominent player in the email newsletter marketplace it is well placed to be able to analyze the various data and determine the most popular free email services.
A Brief History of the Biggest Webmail Services
Hotmail has long been one of the most popular of the free email services. HoTMaiL was started by Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith in 1996. From the start HoTMaiL (note the letters HTML in the original case of HoTMaiL) was very popular and Microsoft purchased this still popular email service in later 1997.
Yahoo! Mail effectively started life as ‘Rocketmail’ which was acquired by Yahoo! for us$96 million in 1997 (the same year that Yahoo! Mail was formally launched). The reason for Yahoo! buying Rocketmail was that they recognized that they had to enter and gain ground in the Webmail market as quickly as possible and an acquisition meant ‘instant’ customers.
Google Gmail is a relative newcomer in the Webmail market. Gmail was launched as an invitation only service in 2003 and only went into full release in 2009. Gmail offers free Web based email as well as a paid version (as part of Google Apps).
The Most Popular Webmail Providers
As can be seen by the graph, of the two billion emails sent through Mailchimp each month, Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail and Gmail are by far the most popular email providers (some of the Gmail data are missing as can be seen on the graph).
It is interesting to see the data from Mailchimp for 2009: