Internet Use Means More Mail for the Masses

There are a total of 435 million active email accounts in the world, enough for every man, woman, and child in North America to have their own, according to a study by Messaging Online.

According to the study, the number of electronic mailboxes in use worldwide reached 435 million by the end of the third quarter of 1999, an increase of 125 million mailboxes since the beginning of the year and a growth rate of 66 percent since September of 1998. The growth of email has been nothing short of astounding. According to Messaging Online, it took eight years for the commercial email industry to reach its first million mailboxes. It took another five years to reach 10 million mailboxes. It then took six more years (until the end of 1995) for the industry to hit 100 million mailboxes. Two years later it doubled to 200 million. Eighteen months later, it has more than doubled again.

Corporate email accounts are the most popular, according to the study, but Web mail (mail available over the Internet) and ISP mail accounts both more than doubled for the third quarter of 1999 to 150 million and 100 million, respectively. The number of corporate mailboxes grew 20 percent to 180 million worldwide.

The US and Canada account for 62.5 percent of the total number of mailboxes counted by Messaging Online, while Europe, Japan, and Australia accounted for roughly a third of the worldwide installed base.

“Americans are the email junkies,” said Eric Arnum, editor of Messaging Online. Most email users in the US have at least two email addresses, the study found.

Who’s Winning the E-Mail Race?
Largest corporate
messaging platform
Lotus Notes
46.8 million mailboxes
Largest ISP
email platform
41.5 million accounts (56 million licenses)
service operator
18.7 million subscribers
Top Web mail
service provider
Yahoo mail
47 million Web mail accounts
Source: Messaging Online

“There are few places left where you can’t receive email,” Arnum said. “Cell phones, video game consoles, evenb cable TV cable box top units can get an email address. Wireless, fax, and voicemail are converging around the electronic mailbox in the workplace, and everything from mp3 music files to family photos are showing up as email attachments in the home.”

In the early 1990s, Arnum said, the work/home email split was 80/20. Now, consumers have flocked to Internet services and Web mail, and the split has reversed to 40/60.

Messaging platforms have enjoyed robust growth, according to the survey, with 15 platforms accounting for three-quarters of the installed base. Lotus Notes remains the top corporate mesaging platform in terms of installed base, but Microsoft Exchange is growing at a faster rate. Notes has grown by 13.3 million seats since the end of 1998, but Exchange grew by 14.5 million seats in the same period.

Electronic mail isn’t the only written messaging benefitting from increased use of the Internet. A study of companies conducting e-commerce by Pitney Bowes found that half of the companies surveyed had increased their volume of written, paper, “snail” mail as a result of e-commerce activity.

More than half (59 percent) of the companies have seen an increase in mail volume of 11 percent or more. The companies are using mail as part of their marketing strategy, with 70 percent using direct mail to promote their e-commerce Web site. By a two-to-one margin, companies engaged in e-commerce stated that direct mail was the bestmedium for developing long-term customer relationships. Forty-three percent of the total marketing budget for firms responding to the Pitney Bowes survey is committed to direct mail initiatives. Direct mail budgets are expected to grow by 25 percent in the next three years.

Mail is also used in fulfilling and confirming orders, leading Pitney Bowes to feel the volume of mail will rise as e-commerce increases. Thirty-eight percent of companies expect their e-commerce business to at least double in the next three years.

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