Hotmail more popular than Gmail in Europe, comScore says

Hotmail usage is still growing slowly in Europe but declining worldwide, comScore said

Microsoft's Hotmail is the top Web-based email client in Europe with 108.2 million unique users during June, a spokeswoman for research firm comScore said on Wednesday. Google's Gmail ranked second with 74.7 million users.

While Microsoft's email service is still the most popular, its unique visitors were up by only 1 percent compared with a year ago, comScore said in a news release on Tuesday. Gmail usage had a much higher growth rate, adding 18 percent compared to last year, it said. Yahoo Mail is the third ranked Web based email provider in Europe with 44.3 million users.

Yahoo though was the most engaging email client with users spending 2.1 hours a month using the application, said comScore. In contrast an average European user spent 1.9 hours per month using Hotmail and 59.5 minutes using Gmail, said comScore spokeswoman Taanya Malik in an email.

The other two email providers in the top five were the Russian providers Mail.ru and Yandex Mail, which attracted 42.3 million and 25.1 million users respectively in June, according to comScore. The Russian email providers experienced the strongest growth among Europe's top five Web-based email providers, it said, adding that with 58.8 million users going online in June, Russia has the biggest Internet audience in Europe. In comparison, Germany and France ranked second and third with 51.8 million and 43.2 million unique users respectively going online in June .

Hotmail is also still the most used worldwide Web-based email client, with a little over 324 million unique users logging into its servers at least once during June, according to figures provided by comScore. However, its popularity is declining. In the same month last year almost 338 million users logged into Hotmail, a decline of 4 percent within a year.

Yahoo Mail ranked second worldwide with a little over 290 million users in June, a usage increase of 2 percent compared to last year, the research firm said. Gmail ranks third and was the fastest climber worldwide, rising 17 percent to bring the total monthly unique users to 277.6 million, it said.

Overall webmail usage also increased by 6 percent to 905.6 million unique users logging in monthly, said comScore.

Microsoft is in the process of changing its online email offering. At the end of June it began previewing a new webmail service for consumers called Outlook.com that is eventually destined to replace Hotmail. The software giant said at the time it expected that the new Outlook.com will draw away users from competitors as Gmail and Yahoo.

Microsoft plans to do that by providing what it calls a "clean" and "intuitive" user interface that gives more prominence to messages and less screen real estate to other elements like search boxes, headers or display ads. Outlook.com will also feature native integration with Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, Facebook and in the near future Microsoft's Skype.

Loek covers all things tech for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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