During the past week a colleague sent me a link to Campaign Monitor’s statistics on e-mail client popularity. A first glance shows Outlook to be the most popular, Lotus Notes to be absolutely nowhere, and iOS devices to be the strong-performing new kids on the block.

However, it’s very important to look at the way that the statistics have been collected. Campaign Monitor use a request to a remote image in their e-mail, and then can check the type of client that makes the request. Now, this would be accurate if not for three things:

  1. Many e-mail clients don’t show remote images by default (it’s a good mechanism for not indicating live e-mail accounts to spammers). Notes 8.x, most versions of Outlook, and Mozilla Thunderbird will block remote images. Typically I won’t load the images if I’m not interested in the content, and I suspect many other people exhibit that behaviour. So many of Campaign Monitor’s e-mails will go unregistered, thus skewing their statistics.
  2. The statistics mash together personal and business e-mail accounts. Hotmail, Yahoo! mail, GMail (although Google may argue), Apple Mail, Outlook Express and Thunderbird are predominantly personal e-mail solutions. Full Outlook and Notes are predominantly used in business environments. The mobile platforms (iOS, Android) are likely to figure in both sets. All I’m saying is that it would be more illustrative to take a view of the personal and enterprise markets separately. In business Outlook and Notes would outstrip the others, therefore it’s unfair to show Notes with such a small share. For personal accounts the picture would be completely different.
  3. Spam filters – are Campaign Monitor’s e-mails getting stopped by spam filters before they get to business users? Maybe, and again that will skew the Outlook and Notes statistics, and probably for the business-used mobile platforms too.

The survey then lists the ‘movers and shakers’ compared to two years ago. The fact that iOS devices have grown most (84.23%) is no surprise, although actually I would have expected more. The fact that Notes has fallen (by roughly the same amount) is also no surprise, knowing what’s been happening in the enterprise market over the past few years. However, I refer to point #1 above – older versions of Notes (and I mean 7 and older) didn’t have the ability to block remote images. Notes 8.x does have that ability. So the same population of Notes users, but with more using Notes 8.x, would show less usage using Campaign Monitor’s method of gathering statistics.