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Google GMail continues to own the email market, Microsoft is catching up


Back in 2009 I wrote about Google's GMail emerging as the dominant platform for email. It had 46% of all accounts I sampled from American bloggers for the Ph.D. thesis of a friend. Blogging was big back then :-).

Now I wondered how things have changed over the last decade while I was working on another email related job. Having access to a list of 2.3 million email addresses from a rather similar (US-centric) demographic, let's do some math:

Google's GMail has 39% in that (much larger, but still non-scientific and skewed) sample. This is down from 46% in 2009. Microsoft, with its various email domains from Hotmail to has massively caught up from 10% to 35%. This is definitely also due to now focussing more on the strong Microsoft Office brands e.g. for Office 365 and Yahoo, the #2 player back in 2009, is at 18%, still up from the 12% back then.

So Google plus Microsoft command nearly ¾ of all email addresses in that US-centric sample. Adding Yahoo into the equation leaves the accounts covered at >92%. Wow.

Email has essentially centralized onto three infrastructure providers and with this the neutrality advantage of open standards will probably erode. Interoperability is something two or three players can make or break for 90% of the user base within a single meeting in Sunnyvale.

Google is already trying their luck with "confidential email" which carry expiry dates and revokable reading rights for the recipient. So ... not really email anymore. More like Snapchat. Microsoft has been famous for their winmail.dat attachments and other negligence of email best practices. Yahoo is probably busy trying to develop a sustainable business model and trying to find cash that Marissa didn't spend so hopefully less risk of trying out misguided "innovations" in the email space from them.

All other players are less that 1% of the email domains in the sample. AOL used to have 3.1% and now the are at 0.6% which is in the same (tiny) ball park as the combined Apple offerings (, at 0.4%.

There is virtually no use of the new TLDs for (real, user)1 email. Just a few hundreds of .info and .name. And very few that consider themselves .sexy or .guru and want to tell via their email TLD.

Domain owner   2009 2018
GMail   46.1% 38.6%
Yahoo 11.6% 18.3%
Microsoft 9.9% 35.4%
AOL 3.1% 0.6%
Apple 1.0% 0.4%
Comcast 2.3% 0.2%
SBCGlobal 0.9%   0.09%

  1. There is extensive use of cheap TLDs for "throw-away" spam operations

Generate an indexed list of passwords


Generating an indexed list of passwords without complex perl or python:

pwgen -y 20 30 | nl -w 2 -n rz -s -


pwgen: -y = complex passwords (including symbols) ; 20 = length of password; 30 = number of passwords to generate

nl: -w 2 = zero pad to a width of two characters; -n rz = print right-justified; -s - = use dash as a separator

screenshot of pwgen | nl

Google GMail dominating the email market


Google's GMail was launched in April 2004 and only in February 2007 Google dropped its invite system to open up to the general public acc. to Wikipedia's history of GMail. That's some five years of operations up to now.

It kind of amazed me how many people I know have GMail as their primary mail provider. So I took the chance today to get a bit of statistics to check my gut feelings:

A friend of mine selected some (mostly American) bloggers that have indicated specific interests in a topic related to his Doctoral thesis. This sample ended up to be 1,375 people. These folks have 295 different email domains. Only.

A whooping 46% of the (rather random) sample use GMail, 12% Yahoo, 8% Hotmail and about 3% AOL. While Yahoo has some foreign domains in the sample (,, see mostly American bloggers above), these add up to around 0.1% of the sample so it's not really significant.

Distribution of American blogger's email domains

This data is in no way representative, but still wow. Google basically has a monopoly on search and now seems to have a close-to-majority footprint in personal email.

I guess the dominance is currently larger in the States than in Europe or Asia as GMail has only gradually learned languages beyond English.
Large local providers should also have some foothold in these markets. Similar to the Comcast and SBC customers still significant in sample depicted above. Just the local providers in Europe and Asia will be somewhat stronger (for now). Google is also aggressively targeting corporations with hosted email and apps now so one can expect further and accelerated growth in that area. Quite a number of companies are considering using hosted email instead of the conventional mail system they have operated on site for many years now.

So while Gina Trapani recommends "Break Google's Monopoly on Your Data: Switch to Yahoo Search", may I humbly point out: It's becoming quite impossible to just keep your emails between the recipient and the addressee these days.

Even if you personally do not use GMail, Google can (technically) still profile you because a huge chunk of people you communicate with send from GMail and receive and store your emails there.

Nearly all email that is sent also passes spam filters before delivery. Google bought the Postini spam filter in 2007. That anti-spam service is used by many enterprises and even city governments, see here.

So time to consider (unencrypted) email as what it has always been: The digital equivalent of a postcard.
Just now Google has become the postmen. All of them, every second shift. You should hope they're not nosey. Or send letters.


11.05.2014: Benjamin Mako Hill has written a blog entry Google Has Most of My Email Because It Has All of Yours doing analysis for his own email box. He found a third of his inbox emails come from Google and - as he doesn't usually reply to newsletters and the like - more than half of his own email replies (57% in 2013) end up at GMail. He published his code in case you want to do the analysis on our own email.

Wikimedia 2008/2009 Fundraiser Analysis I


The Wikimedia Foundation has started its annual fundraiser again on November 4th 2008. It is scheduled to run until January 15th 2009. I've written several articles on last year's so I've been asked a lot to comment on the current one. This year Wikimedia clearly state they want to raise $6 million. No more diffuse targets, "number of donors" weirdness as last year. Well done, Rand!

Wikipedia main page shows $3.289.684
The Wikimedia fundraiser contributions page shows $2.289.684 - the Sloan Foundation million less

Rand Montoya is Wikimedia's new "Head of Community Giving" and responsible for making this fundraiser much more professional than last year's. The contribution history page still is only good to spot the occasional clown donating JPY 1 (which makes Wikimedia loose money due to transaction fees). But Rand pointed me to two other pages giving a better report on current donations:

The meter banner on top of many wikipedia pages matches the data on these pages quite closely. It's just a million off :-). (see images above) That million is an annual donation by the Sloan foundation ($3 million over three years). All of it been accounted for in the donation year 2007 (see the Wikimedia Financials FAQ) but somehow it is added again in the meter but not in the statistics pages. BTW: The German Wikimedia chapter has a less fancy, but more complete and transparent reporting of donations. Not cut-off after seven days. All of a month on one page. Data ready for copy & paste into a spreadsheet. Benchmark.

So, is the $6 million target realistic? At day 29 of the 74 day campaign, $3.3m have been raised. Taking out the major donations totaling $1.7m (these are not stochastic enough to be estimated with any reasonable validity) and assuming that the Christmas tax rally at the end of the year roughly equals the start of fundraising spike, we can expect $2.6m to be raised from individual contributors. Adding back the major donations, the estimation for the total fundraiser comes in at $4.3m. That's plus any major donations still to be announced. I bet a guy with Rand's experience has another ace up his sleeve. One less elegant solution has been hinted at in the fundraiser FAQ already: "What happens if you do not reach your goal? [...] A second, smaller fundraiser may be scheduled for March."

Converting a DVD film (mpeg2) to DV


There are a gazillion web pages telling you how to convert DV to MPEG2 for DVD use. But I got a DVD from a corporate event and needed to convert it to DV to be cut in kdenlive. So just the other way around. Try to find a web page about that direction (needle in haystack, anyone?).

Giving up on google, I tried unsuccessfully with the swiss army knife that comes to mind first (ffmeg).

While something like ffmpeg -i vts_01_1.vob -i vts_01_2.vob -i vts_01_3.vob -sameq -target dv ../Raum_Video.avi creates a nice .avi, even mplayer complains about it violating the dv and avi standards.

So back to digging around in tutorials and forums and trial and error with other tools. Finally I found Avidemux to be the tool of choice. It encapsulates ffmpeg and other tools nicely to make them produce the expected results. Set video to DV (lavc), Audio to WAV PCM and the container format to AVI and go grab a coffee meal. It creates a nice DV file that you can easily work with in your favorite video editor.

Screenshot of Avidemux in action

Wikimedia Fundraiser 2007/2008 Report published by Wikimedia Foundation


Eric Möller has published his report on the Wikimedia 2007/2008 fundraiser. I found it because he hotlinked one of the images that I created for my detailed analysis. His report lists some interesting new information:

  • Wikimedia got $50,000 in Google stock from another - yet again - anonymous donor.
  • The Wikimedia chapters (local organisation units e.g. in Germany or France) have collected nearly $250,000 in their fundraisers (mostly in Germany). The Germans buy stuff of their own from the money. Only the Swiss donated 25% of their raised budget back to Wikimedia foundation. Eric explains: "The lack of a clear understanding between chapters and the Foundation about the role and responsibilities of the different entities in the fundraising process is an additional impediment. For example: Should chapters share fundraising revenue with the Foundation, and if so, how? [..] The German chapter has an informal agreement with the Foundation to invest half of its fundraising revenue in ways directly benefiting WMF projects."
  • Eric says it was not intended to raise the full $4.6m. Somehow people just mis-interpreted the fundraiser that way: "The publication of the planned spending was misunderstood by some to indicate that the fundraiser's goal was to raise 4.6 million dollars. [...] Inquiries related to the actual financial target of the fundraiser were less common, probably in large part due to the publication of the Foundation's planned spending."

The report is extremly low on self-criticism. There is no insight visable that not giving a financial target was a major bummer or that the general intransparency, unprofessional communication and amateurish reporting on financial issues was keeping many people from donating. Nothing about missing the 100,000 donors target, either. There is not a word on the webcomics deletion issues and the subsequent call by the webcomics community to boycot the fundraiser or the scandal around hiring a convicted felon as COO because of unprofessional HR work. Not a word on the ridiculous "dinner with Jimmy Wales" for people donating $25,000. Nobody even donated $10,001.

"Also, given that most of the viewers of the planned spending distribution had no financial background, the level of explanations given was probably not sufficient." Come on, Eric, the people with financial background are not even considering the published material as "planning".

And next time, please link a blog entry and not some graphics. Criticism is healthy. Let people develop an opinion of their own. Try putting a "public criticism" section into your report. It will definitely add to the report's credibility.


03.02.08: Eric has ammended information from the Italian chapter. They raised around $3,000 and forwarded it all to Wikimedia foundation.

Wikimedia Fundraiser Follow-up


The Wikimedia fundraiser has generated a few interesting posts and received further analysis today:

  • Erik Möller sent a wrap-up email stating that the fundraiser has also gained "a single unrestricted $500K donation by an anonymous donor". Him quoting that the Fundraiser "raised altogether more
    than 2 million dollars" may also explain why the fundraiser ran two days longer. "More than two million" just sounds so much better than "nearly two million"... :-)
  • He also explains "Last month, Sue & I took a first tour through the Silicon Valley, and with the help of one of Jimmy's friends [ed: Roger McNamee of Elevation Partners], we've been able to meet with a number of key people in the area who could make major contributions to the Foundation. We're planning a dinner with potential major donors and rainmakers next month, and we hope to also form some stable group or committee of influential & networked people who can help us raise major contributions.

    Our general process with these individuals has been to give them a standard presentation about the past & present, and a highly tentative view of the future of the organization, to answer any questions they have, and to then follow-up and cultivate the relationships further. What we seek is preferably completely unrestricted, philanthropic seed funding as we set up headquarters in San Francisco.

    In addition to these meetings, we've also had some first exploratory discussions with Sun Microsystems about developing some kind of partnership(s) - this is still very provisional, and we'll follow up in the next month." as a result to a leaked confidential Powerpoint presentation from the mentioned Sun meeting.

Continue reading "Wikimedia Fundraiser Follow-up"

Wikimedia Fundraiser Analysis III


The official Wikimedia fundraiser had been extended into January, 3rd 2008, has been kept up on the 4th and is kind of still running. The site notice has been trimmed down to a thank you message but still requests further donations, which are also continuously added to the official daily funds list and running totals as of the press time of this article.

I've presented two interim analysis

Today, let's wrap up the fundraiser until the second official close date 03.01.08:

From 22.10.07 until 03.01.08 43,837 people have contributed a total of $1,467,446 (US) according to Wikimedia's own stats (see the previous two articles mentioned above for a discussion of their reporting scheme).

Continue reading "Wikimedia Fundraiser Analysis III"

Wikimedia Fundraiser continues past extended deadline


The Wikimedia fundraiser was scheduled to end yesterday, 03.01.08, after the deadline had already been extended. The donations headers and pages are still up and people have contributed similar amounts today compared to yesterday, so Wikimedia is approaching 1.5m$ with funds coming in at 17,880$/day (last 10 day average) up from the $12,400 seen right before Christmas.

Wikimedia Fundraiser continues past deadline

There is no communication from Wikimedia when the fundraiser will be ending now. The FAQ still says yesterday and questions on the talk pages are currently unanswered.

Wikimedia Fundraiser Analysis II


Yesterday, 22.12.2007, the initial deadline for the Wikimedia fundraiser ran out.

It has been extended to 03.01.2008 but it's a good time to assess the results so far as
yesterday ends the initially planned duration of the fundraiser.
As I documented in the original Wikimedia Fundraiser Analysis article, the
Wikimedia Foundation hoped to raise up to $4.611m. Measuring the success of the fundraiser
was conducted through a meter showing the number of people that donated rather than
the accumulated total donations, like in previous years. The target seemed to be set at 100,000
people donating. That was later confirmed.
The estimations from the first two weeks of fundraising up to 03.11.07 were: $1.68m to be raised from 60,500 people.
That was well below the (unofficial) target of $4.611m and the (official) 100,000 donors goal.

So, where are we after the initially planned two months of fundraising have been completed?

Continue reading "Wikimedia Fundraiser Analysis II"

Wikimedia Fundraiser extended to 03. January 2008


I have just noted that the Wikimedia Foundation has extended the deadline for the fundraiser from 22. December 2007 to 03. January 2008. Here's the diff from the Fundraising FAQ.

The funds are currently coming in at just above 12,000$ a day and have so far reached 1.24m$, a huge sum sufficient to cover half of the technology budget Wikimedia proposed for it's fiscal year 2007/2008. That includes unspecified salaries, so may be the funds will be sufficient to operate Wikipedia a year. But obviously the total grants fall expectedly short of the total 4.61m$ planned for spending.

Wikimedia Fundraiser Webpage now cuts off at the last 10.000 donations


The Wikimedia Foundation has changed their donation web pages again. Now they cut off the "Recent contributions" at 400 pages of (max.) 25 donors each. Thus the commands I gave in the Wikimedia Fundraiser analysis article can't be repeated to give the full picture anymore. You can now only get a view of the last 9-10 days.

The implementation has obviously been done quite hastily. If you select the "Filter" to show only one page of results, you'll still get the (now hard-coded) 0 .. 400 pages selector at the bottom.

I've been pointed at two other resources on the recent fund raiser for information:


09.11.07: Casey Abell has added to the comments which lists a daily report of the funds collected. Thanks Casey! The numbers match very well with my analysis. Wikimedia currently reports $27,97 average donation. I measured $27,85 six days ago. That seems stable. Interim conclusion:There are still major individual donations required to get anywhere above $2m.

10.11.07: Casey generates a nice graph of the daily funds collected here.

Wikimedia Fundraiser changes progress meter


The Wikimedia foundation has just changed the progress meter to track the number of donors.

Now every icon seems to represent a 5,000 people increment. So the 100,000 donors target looks still set. Well, actually 95,001 would now fill the last icon on the meter.

To achieve this Wikimedia still needs to accelerate the donors/day according to my analysis from yesterday. At the current 1,000 donors/day, they'll "only" receive around 60,500 individual donations. The running total donors figure is now displayed in text. This is pretty advantageous as the graphical representation need to be updated only once another 5,000 people have contributed. The new meter is also language neutral, so it does not need to be updated for each language individually anymore. The Text below the meter ("You can help Wikimedia change the world!") is HTML too, so this can be easily localized. All in all, well done!

This is what it looks like on the English Wikimedia home page now:

Wikimedia fund raiser meter, new version, English Wikipedia Homepage 04.11.07

The German version of Wikipedia currently still displays the old graph:

Wikimedia fund raiser meter, old version, German Wikipedia Homepage 04.11.07

There is also a change in the individual donations listing visible:

The people contributing $0.01 seem to have vanished. Perhaps the interface to Paypal and Moneybookers has a minimum set to $1.00 now. This will shift the average donation upwards, but will also account for fewer donors. The trolls at least were good to be counted...

Wikimedia Fundraiser Analysis


The Wikimedia Foundation, the organisation behind Wikipedia, is running their annual fund raiser since October 22nd. There have been numerous complaints that the Wikimedia Foundation did not name a target sum to be achieved or is in other way acting intransparent. There may be good reasons for that:

  • The last fund raiser was "tough" to get through already and raised about one million dollars with $20 average contribution as to what Bruno Giussani reported from Lift '07.
  • The foundation grew from $56,666 turn-over in it's fiscal year 2003/2004 to $283,487 (2004/2005) and $1,066,785 (2005/2006). The 2006/2007 figures are still not reported, but it's safe to estimate that the 4x increase of the previous year has slowed down a bit.(see Updates section below) See for the scarce details.
  • The budget planning for fiscal year 2007/2008 totals $4.611m. The break-down is very rough and little effort is spent to explain the figures to the general public.
  • The suggested donations have been set high at $200 to $40 with marketdroid speak to sell that:
    "If you and 99 other people donate .. $200 – We can ...".
  • It's not very likely a target in the range of the planned budget can be achieved from Joe, Dick and Harry's contributions. Wikimedia may need Larry, Sergey or Mark here. (I'll leave that without links for you to think about :-))

So - to make the best of this - and continue being unnecessarily intransparent, Wikimedia (cough Jimmy Wales, cough) has decided to only list the number of donors as the "progress report".

Their "meter" currently looks like this:

Wikimedia fund raising meter as displayed 03.11.07 around 22:00

You can easily analyse the scale to find that Wikimedia hopes 100.000 people will contribute.

Continue reading "Wikimedia Fundraiser Analysis"