Despite the fact that pretty much everybody and their dog made the switch from Hotmail and Yahoo Mail to Gmail years ago, you might be surprised to learn that Google actually doesn’t own the biggest slice of email traffic… only the most relevant slice.
And with the launch of Outlook.com this week, Microsoft is hoping to claw back some of the more tech-savvy users it lost because they were sick of Hotmail’s cluttered interface and crappy spam filtering.
If you haven’t seen the new Outlook.com interface, well… let’s just say it looks an awful lot like Gmail’s. It’s clean and simple.
And right out of the gate, Outlook.com showed that Microsoft still has some buzz. Over a million users signed up for an Outlook.com inbox in the first 6 hours. That’s one reason that I think Outlook can rival Gmail. But there’s also another much more convincing reason.
Kinda weird right? I suspect that lots of other people out there, like myself, were simply too lazy to delete their Hotmail account… and they decided to use it as a backup, second-tier spambox.
According to ComScore, Hotmail still has around 350M users. At first, I thought MSN might be padding its numbers by automatically converting Hotmail users to Outlook.com, but I check my account and it’s still regular old, boring Hotmail. But then, when I typed in Outlook.com to create an account, my hotmail inbox was already waiting for me in Outlook form…
Microsoft seems to be toeing the line between trying to build Outlook.com organically, and greedily pulling unengaged users into yet another Hotmail redesign…
I don’t know what the strategy is, but I am sure that Microsoft is sitting on a pretty huge opportunity. If they can get a significant portion of Hotmail users to switch over, Outlook.com could be a strong competitor with Gmail.
What’s more, the reach and relevance of MSN’s email ads could compete with AdWords. That’d be a big deal.