Congratulations Gmail users – you are now members of the One billion club. Yes, that’s right Kiwis, if you’ve been using the free Gmail service here in NZ – there are now over 1 billion other monthly users across the world according to a recent Google earnings report.
Although Google occasionally shares background data but doesn’t share specific statistics about its users – Gmail has been a very popular email client for (our 2m NZ internet enabled households) since its April 1, 2004 launch.
For those that can remember, Gmail begun as in-demand invite only service, remaining in Beta until 2009. Offering fast loading, in-email search & drastically reduced inbox clutter, Gmail quickly grew in size to dwarf its nearest competitors Yahoo Mail & Hotmail.
With its innovations forcing an evolution in email & web design, Gmail accrued more than 425 million global active users by 2012. Its popularity continued with more than 900 million users announced only last May.
Although considered by many as a mature communications service overshadowed by a newer range of online communications & entertainment platforms, the Gmail user base now shares the limelight with other Google heavyweights including Search, Maps, Chrome, Google Play, YouTube & importantly – Facebook.
Gmail (code named Caribou) began in 2001 as an internal project to solve Google staff email woes, when alternative services featured extremely slow HTML interfaces & negligible or poor search capabilities.
2004 – Launching with an unheard of 1 GB of email storage space, Gmail was initially available in Beta to 1,000 opinion leaders who were able to invite their friends & family to join the testing.
2010 – Email had grown exponentially resulting in users inboxes clogged with subscriptions & spam. To simplify Gmail message management, a Priority Inbox was launched that separated incoming mail into three folders:
• Important and unread
• Everything else
2011 – To reduce visual clutter a design overhaul was implemented. Additions included profile images for conversations, HD themes & inbox options – for varying screen sizes: comfortable, cosy or compact.
2013 – To further reduce clutter (now from social network notifications) further separations were made to inbox tabs.
Now both in New Zealand & elsewhere, Gmail users are accessing their email accounts using hi-speed broadband. Here in New Zealand, almost all internet connections are broadband with more than 3.7million accessing their online accounts via mobile.
According to recent figures, Gmail is now accessed by up to 75% of its customers internationally via a mobile device.
Gmail for Android – For mobile users, Gmail introduced its first Android app to the Google Play App Store in 2008. To date, the Android app has been downloaded on close to a billion times.
Gmail for iOS – The Gmail app for iOS devices was made available to Apple users in 2011. The app continues to receive regular updates & enables users to switch between up to five separate accounts.
Over time, Gmail has become integrated with many other Google products and services & is a fundamental integration for Google Account holders.
With Gmail’s ongoing innovations to the now mature email market, it’s newly formed parent company Alphabet valued at a market cap of $547.1billion & a contender for the world’s most valuable company…where to next?