5 Reasons Outlook.com Will Not be a Gmail killer

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.


Bharat August 7, 2012

Very nice writeup Aditya, agree with your points. Only thing I like in Outlook is I got my desired username.

Aditya Kane August 7, 2012

@Bharat: Good point Bharat, I think a lot of people signed up only for their desired username

Vinit August 7, 2012

#4 is just true

Shailendra Singh Bais August 8, 2012

A very deep and experienced write-up Aditya. U are right, Email is dying. A social integration will not help in staying it right here. And, you are even right when you said that Microsoft never took internet seriously. This they are probably doing for their new Windows 8 OS. So they have changed name of their offline Email client to a Domain name. A shift from regular computing to Cloud computing. Which can even be seen with today’s released Office preview. Microsoft according to me decides things bit late. They came up with Windows 98 after some 20 years of founding the company. But, see the faith they have immense success.

Aditya Kane August 8, 2012

@Shailendra: As far as software is concerned, even their arch rival Steve Jobs admitted once that Microsoft was the first successful software company.
The fact is they are not new to Email – Hotmail has been a Microsoft product before Gmail was launched. So I am not sure Microsoft has it in them to turn things around in the email space. Not sure if it just a re-branding exercise, but Microsoft atleast claims its a different approach to Email.

Karan Goel August 11, 2012

“Even companies are trying out various techniques to reduce the email workload, so their employees have more time to do the really important things.”

Sorry, I just don’t agree. Email is being used by companies more than ever. If email was dying, Google wouldn’t invest loads of time and money and manpower in Gmail.

Here’s the valid stats from just the last year: http://mashable.com/2011/05/05/past-present-future-email-infographic/

The correct point would be that email usage is at a rapid decline among teens – thanks to IM, social media, SMS. Any older, and most communication is via Email or direct phone calls.


Aditya Kane August 12, 2012

@Karan:Maybe I should have written it differently but when I say “reduce the email work-load” I mean to cutting down on internal email – which can often be unnecessary and make a big demand on productivity on employees. This means companies are using internal chat or IM software a lot more than before to communicate internally rather than send across emails. This does not include managing email communication with people outside the company, for example with clients.

One of the most famous recent example of a company cutting out internal email is ATOS – Zero email policy.

Tushar Thakur August 18, 2012

Only one thing that I like with Outlook and that is I got my desired name. Rest Gmail is rocks as usual.

Gautam August 19, 2012

hi adtiya, Gmail is always have some different than others not only gmail but most of google products are user friendly so user easily manage their work compare to other brands on market.