Does the large user base of Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail make them better than Gmail? Or should the simplistic and quick loading interface of Gmail put it at the top spot? Obviously, such questions are not simple to answer – so how do we decide which is the best email service in the world?
Though there are hundreds (if not thousands) of web based email service providers, I’ve considered only the three most popular in this article. I suppose bringing others into the fray will just complicate matters. Keeping things simple will at least help arriving at a conclusion.
This is the most difficult part. How does one rate a web based email service? Some things can be easily quantified. For example, account storage space or load time are measured in numbers. However, features of the email service like interface intuitiveness, accessibility or the flexibility cannot be judged in a straightforward manner because they will change depending on individual perceptions, location, time of day etc. So can we create a level platform for rating online email services?
The best email service is one that gets the fewest complains from its users. Yes! This can serve as a good yardstick for measuring these services. And the best place to find more on this is Google Trends.
Take a look at the two charts below – the keywords were [service name] problem and [service name] problems. It appears that searches for Hotmail and Gmail troubles have been kind of equal. Yahoo! Mail, on the other hand seems to give the least problem to its users.
Note the distinct spikes for searches related to problems with Hotmail and Gmail accounts the past year or so. As you can understand, people will look for solutions on the web even though the problem lies at their end. However, if this was solely the case, the graph lines would have been flat. Spikes do mean a genuine problem with the email service.
Does this mean Yahoo! Mail is the best email service? Hmmmm! The charts show the searches based on a couple of sets of keywords and nothing more. Having said that, Yahoo! Mail is the leader of the pack in terms of popularity and usage. In my opinion, a high subscriber base coupled with dependable service (with the least searches for problems) does put Yahoo! Mail a few inches before the other two in the race for the best email service.
Yes, I really like my Yahoo! Mail account but use the Gmail one more frequently. Why? Not sure… guess I am too used to it. And this is precisely the reason why it’s difficult to judge and pick the best web email service. Familiarity with the interface (and, thus, ease of use) and a resistance to changing our email IDs are just two of the factors that are shift the scales. So if you are on Yahoo! Mail, you’ll probably love the service till the day you die – unless, of course, something untoward happens. However, in this day and age of fierce competition where each one is trying to outdo the other the best email service is one that keeps adding new features and extending the flexibility of the email account.
So which of these services do you consider the best? Vote and show you love – takes just 2 mouse clicks.
Note (July 2010): AOL was intentionally left out of this poll. Though the service was once very popular, over the years it’s lost most of the market share to the big three – Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail. Having said that, the features in a free AOL email account are as good, if not better, that the competition.
Ray Tomlinson, the inventor of the email system, did not invent the @ sign. It had been in existence for hundreds of years. He just used it in an email address and made it popular once again. [more...]