Yahoo Mail still king as Gmail lurks

Yahoo added almost 20 million e-mail subscribers in the last year, giving it more users than Hotmail and Gmail combined. Still, Gmail is growing at a faster clip.

Yahoo is still king of the e-mail market as of June 2009, but Gmail has the most momentum. ComScore Media Metrix

Google's Gmail is the fastest-growing e-mail service on the planet, but it has a way to go to catch Yahoo's still-growing market share.

ComScore's latest figures for the e-mail market show Yahoo added almost 20 million users last year, growing its share of the market by 22 percent from 87.2 million users to 106.2 million users in June. Only Gmail grew faster--a 46-percent clip--but just 36.9 million people are currently using Gmail. Microsoft's Hotmail is the second-most widely used e-mail with 47.1 million users, up 3 percent from last year.

Some outlets, such as TechCrunch, zeroed in on Google's performance, noting that it has now surpassed Web 1.0 stalwart AOL's steadily falling share of the e-mail market. Others, such as Daring Fireball, noted that Google has better mindshare among the digerati than Yahoo or Hotmail.

But Yahoo, currently rebranding itself around content and services after dumping its search business on Microsoft , should be thrilled at 22 percent growth starting from such a large number. Now that Yahoo will be dependent on attracting eyeballs to its vast network of Web content, pushing that content to those logging into Yahoo to check their e-mail becomes extremely important.

Google has had to make some changes as Gmail has grown larger, tweaking the "labels" sorting structure it uses inside Gmail to behave more like the traditional folder-based organization used by other e-mail services. Still, there's no doubt that Gmail has breathed new life into the original killer application for the Internet since it made its debut five years ago, and Yahoo Mail will have to make sure to stay on top of evolving usage patterns to maintain its edge.

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