Last week, when Microsoft removed the covers of its new email service called Outlook, it has won many praises (including from yours truly) for it’s minimalist design. The service claims to have better spam fighting mechanism along with better controls for managing emails.
It seemed like Microsoft has a real winner on its hands and it could hurt Gmail badly. I thought a bit about the possibility of Outlook.com ever coming close to being a Gmail killer. These are five reasons why I think Outlook.com will not be a threat the Gmail.
#1. Email is not a Social Network
Five years ago, I had email addresses of my friends from my childhood. But we hardly connected as such via email and most of our interaction was done through Orkut, which was the most popular social network in India at that point of time. Most of us have simply stopped using Orkut and are now on Facebook. But guess what we have not changed, it is our email service providers.
People do not dump their email service as easily as they might do with social networks.
#2. Better Design is not Better Service
Outlook.com does have a great design and UI. But that does not automatically mean better service. Gmail has “undo send”, “desktop notifications” and along with dozens of under the hood features, makes it a very powerful service to manage email.
Outlook.com has some improved features like spam filters and newsletter management, but it is still not tired and tested. Some might argue that Hotmail has great anti-spam and email features, but if it did, why is Microsoft trying out a completely new approach to email?
#3. Microsoft did not create Hotmail
Microsoft did not create its email offerings with from the ground up. They bought into the business by get Hotmail for a price tag of $400 million. Microsoft has never really took the internet very seriously, it was still offering 2 MB free space when, Gmail came to the party with 1GB free space for email.
It also underestimated the importance of search on the web and possibly surrendered many advantages to Yahoo and Google subsequently. Microsoft just might not have it in their DNA to get web, sort of like how Google does not get social.
#4. Gmail is too important for Google
Gmail is 8 years old and people who used Google, never did it by signing into their website. Today, most times when I am using search, I am logged into my Google account. Google can track your search queries and tally it to your Google account, allowing it to give you better results. Why does everyone have a Google account? It is because of everyone has a Gmail account..
#5. Email might be dying
Remember all those internet memes, jokes and funny photos that were circulated by your friends and family on email. Today, this part of the interaction and sharing is happening on social networks. Even companies are trying out various techniques to reduce the email workload, so their employees have more time to do the really important things. In other words, email might be dying and could become irrelevant in the next 5 or 10 years. Microsoft’s Outlook.com might be great but it might be arriving to the party so late, that it might be arriving after the party.
I left out technical comparisons between Outlook and Gmail for the main reason, that technical options usually do not prompt one to change their email service. Outlook.com is on the right track with social integration, which might attract users from the under-20 age group, who usually are more prone to adopt newer email services.