Gmail cooler than Hotmail ?
During one candidate review and another (), I thought about writing a post about e-mail messaging offering. And this is something I’m thinking about for several days.
I wanted to compare the 2 services from a higher perspective (but you can find a detailed one in the link provided below). I selected Hotmail and Gmail as they are the most used e-mail services abroad (so please bear with me Yahoo and AIM users ).
So the question on my mind was: why users tend to adopt a Gmail account?
There are a number of features we need to keep in mind.
Free space: Gmail now offers around 8 GB available space while Hotmail offered 5 GB, than 25 GB and now it’s almost unlimited (it detects if you need more space, and then it is automatically increased).
Filtering: they are both doing a great job on filtering messages
Spam: both are good in terms of junk emails. Someone would prefer one service or another but the Junk filters are both pretty good
Forwarding: with Hotmail you can send messages from different accounts (“on behalf of”) like Gmail, AOL Mail and Yahoo! Mail. Same as Gmail.
Advertisement: they both have it (on the web)
Security: they both use https encryption
Privacy: well, Google automatically scans e-mails to add context-sensitive advertisements to them. It seems your e-mails not read by a human but a bot will scan them to send ad-hoc advertisements. Also, senders’ emails are scanned too so (and this is one thing that really concerns me), if you have sensitive data to send to your customers, are you sure these e-mails are not really read by someone? What if you work for a Company which is a Google’s Competitor on a particular are? Hotmail uses Country-based advertisement so Microsoft does not need to scan your email messages. And a question: does Gmail “owns” the content you have in your Gmail account? That’s a question for you guys !
Search: Gmail does probably a better job in searching through your folders and emails as it uses the Google search engine (of course if you don’t access your emails through a client).
Web interface: Generally speaking, the Gmail web interface is thin and fast. Hotmail contains more advertisements.
Mobility: both services are accessible via a mobile phone easily. Of course if you have a Windows Phone 7, Hotmail works best. Same as you have an Android phone and a Gmail account (you have a dedicated application for that).
Other services: of course both of them try to drive their own additional services. Calendars, Contacts, SkyDrive, Windows Live Messenger, Office Web Apps, Google Buzz, Google Docs….you name it !)
Attachments: both are good now in terms of sending heavy files
There are probably other features I’m missing here but that’s ok to have an overview.
So, in the end, who wins? I think nobody wins and both are winners. So how come Gmail is perceived as cooler than Hotmail? Hence the reason why you tend to adopt one service for another. Does it depend to your needs? I don’t think so. Does it depend on space or spam filtering or mobility access? Not at all, I’d say.
The reason, IMHO, is brand awareness. Again, Google does a better job in branding its own services. Some of them are better than Microsoft’s ones, some of them are not. It’s the way in which it positions itself in the market. As someone said on Twitter: “#Microsoft writes software to sell software, #Apple writes software to sell hardware, #Google writes software to sell users”. This is no secret and an absolutely true statement: it corroborates what I’m saying here.
+ the power of the Long Tail. If you link branding (remember, Google is an Internet Company) with the Power of Mouth, than your chances of success are enormously higher. People talking about this particular feature or service to other people, online and offline, is the secret of success.
So, in the end, is Gmail cooler than Hotmail ? It seems so. And if you think about it, it’s in your head already. You don’t have to scroll down all the functionalities to see which service is best. It seems it’s already a fact (but it’s not, if you drill down into details). And this has been “caused”, believe it or not, by the Long Tail, the Power of Mouth, together with a good Branding Awareness.
So, to go Off Topic for a while and apply this to other stuff: you can brand anything. I believe a lot of people in the IT Industry think marketing or digital marketing or whatever you wanna call it is just fluffy/it’s not important. But they’re wrong. If you do it wisely and effectively, it’s the most powerful thing you can do.
Even for yourself (go have a look to this book and read it if you’re interested in this…)
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EMEA MVP Regional Manager @Microsoft
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