HTML Email: What Mail Clients are People Using?

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There are lots of reasons for hating HTML Email, but perhaps no#1 on most people’s hit list is having to produce HTML Email to deliver to potentially hundreds of different mail clients and configurations.

Now, clearly it’s completely impractical to test your work on hundreds of mail rigs, but the question is, where do you draw the line? Generic browser usage statistics are reasonably common, but mail clients stats?

  • What is the take up rate of Outlook 2007?
  • Is Gmail challenging Hotmail?
  • Are home users using different clients to business?

In the past you could confidently make up whatever numbers you liked on those question without fear of being caught out. But that may be changing.

Litmus, who produce an excellent web-based browser and email testing suite are now publishing email client usage statistics from their new Fingerprint email analysis system. It makes very interesting reading.

Now, as with generic browser usage statistics, these are broad-based broad-based figures and no doubt smaller userbase usage profiles may vary greatly. Nevertheless, Litmus claim to have pulled these stats from a pool of almost 3 million clients, so if you’ve had nothing but intuition to base your decisions on in the past, this is pretty big news.

Consumer Mail Client Usage StatsSome of the more interesting stories told by the Fingerprint stats include:

  • Consumers seem to be increasingly leaving their desktop mail clients behind, with well over 60% preferring to use web mail clients.
  • Despite Gmail carving itself out a small share of the market, the old stalwarts of web mail Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail still rule the web mail roost, controlling over half the consumer market and just under half of the business market.
  • Business still likes Outlook, but have been reluctant to make the jump to Outlook 2007.
  • Though consumers are less likely to use Outlook, they’re also more likely to use the latest (and crappiest) version.
  • The iPhone makes the top 10 in both categories, carving out a respectable niche of 1.3% (business) and 1% (consumers) respectively.

Apparently Fingerprint collates it’s data from a single line of code embedded within sent mail and they offer a service that allows you to analyze your own mail list’s viewing habits.

I don’t think there’s much doubt that this is really valuable data for email designers, content providers and marketers, so if I can get something organized for the next Design View, I’ll give you the rundown.

Alex WalkerAlex Walker
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Alex has been doing cruel and unusual things to CSS since 2001. He is the lead front-end design and dev for SitePoint and one-time SitePoint's Design and UX editor with over 150+ newsletter written. Co-author of The Principles of Beautiful Web Design. Now Alex is involved in the planning, development, production, and marketing of a huge range of printed and online products and references. He has designed over 60+ of SitePoint's book covers.

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