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E-Mail Goes International in 2000

March 12, 2001

For the first time in the history of the electronic messaging market, there are more electronic mailboxes outside the United States than within it, according to Messaging Online.

The "Year-End 2000 Mailbox Report" reports that the number of e-mail service subscriptions soared in 2000, up more than 88 percent from the end of 1999 to 514.25 million mailboxes worldwide at the end of 2000. Growth was much swifter outside the United States than within it. The number of U.S. mail service subscribers grew by only 73 percent in 2000, while the number of international service subscribers increased by 109 percent.

The number of wireless messaging devices soared in the past year from 3.7 million to 31.8 million devices. The ramp-up would be even faster if Short Message Service (SMS) devices, of which there are some 500 million worldwide, were included in the count.

America Online's proprietary e-mail service and Microsoft's Hotmail service continue to dominate their respective ISP e-mail and Webmail categories, Messaging Online found. AOL has an 11.4 percent share of 234 million ISP mailboxes and Hotmail has a 30.3 percent share of 280 million Webmail boxes. However, Messaging Online found some international up-and-coming Internet access service providers further on down the list: Germany's T-Online, Terra Lycos in Spain, and Tiscali in Italy, BTinternet in the UK, and Wanadoo in France are among the European ISPs now in the top 25 worldwide.

The Webmail category has seen extensive growth outside of both the United States and Europe. SinaMail is the No. 1 Webmail service in China, and No. 5 worldwide with 11.5 million mailboxes. Universo Online's UOLmail in Brazil is No. 8 with 7 million Webmail users. At No. 13 is RediffMail in India, and No.14 is Taiwan's Kimo Mail. In addition, the big guns of Hotmail and Yahoo Mail are becoming increasingly multinational. A second wave of indigenous Webmailers is on the way, where English is the second language. Same with ISPs, where American-sounding MSN and AOL strike out against indigenous local providers. Gone are the days when something like CompuServe led the international markets simply because there were no local competitors.

Webmail remains a consumer phenomenon, Messaging Online found. The interfaces are not geared up for heavy mail volumes and other services that business usage requires. Moving messages, staying within mailbox limits, and archiving messages are much easier on POP3 e-mail accounts.

When examining the companies that provide the providers with e-mail, Messaging Online found that ISPs either 1) they built it themselves from a Sendmail code base; or 2) they bought a platform from Openwave (, iPlanet (Sun/Netscape), or Critical Path (Isocor). If it's a Webmail service, they 1) built it themselves, or 2) used an outsourcer such as or Commtouch Software.

Worldwide, nearly 250 million of the 514 million service provider mailboxes have been bought from one of the above. The rest are do-it-yourself operations such as AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, EarthLink, and Lycos Mail/MailCity. Openwave dominates among those bought from a platform provider with a 38 percent share, followed by Critical Path with a 23 percent share. However, the Critical Path installed base is almost evenly divided between services that Critical Path runs and software that Critical Path licenses.

The number two player in terms of software licensing to service providers is iPlanet with a 16 percent share, now that it has merged its Netscape Messaging Server and Sun Internet Mail Server product lines. Among the remaining outsourcers, has an 8 percent share; Commtouch has 7 percent; and USA.Net has 6 percent.

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