Last week’s poll asking about your preferred Macintosh email client generated some interesting data, non-scientific though it is. Apple’s Mail ran away with the poll, picking up 41 percent of the more than 2,600 responses. During our last poll on this topic four and a half years ago, the default email client was Outlook Express, which won only 12 percent of the responses then, leading me to think that Mail is both generally more capable than Outlook Express was in comparison with the competition, and that a bundled program from Apple trumps a bundled application from any other company. (Unfortunately, due to the ballot box stuffing for both Cyberdog and Emailer last time, it’s difficult to compare percentages accurately.) Nonetheless, Mail’s strong showing wasn’t surprising.
Though it fell to second place, garnering 28 percent of the vote (down from 37 percent last time), Qualcomm’s Eudora is clearly still heavily used – perhaps disproportionately so – among TidBITS readers. Eudora has long cultivated a reputation for being the best email client for people who receive vast quantities of email, and since TidBITS readers tend to fall in that category, it makes sense to me that Eudora would still fare well in our polls.
I was somewhat surprised at Entourage’s third place finish, with only 13 percent of responses. Entourage is unquestionably a top-tier email client, and its inclusion in Microsoft Office would seem to indicate that millions of Mac users must have it. I would expect Entourage to command a higher percentage of the overall market; perhaps the TidBITS audience is unrepresentative in this regard.
After the big three, the numbers fell off fast. PowerMail led the way with 5 percent, followed by Mailsmith and the Netscape/Mozilla/Thunderbird troika at 3 percent. If I had been betting on it, I would have guessed that more TidBITS readers would use the tweaky Mailsmith over PowerMail, though I’m not surprised that the Mozilla-derived email clients didn’t do better, since they’re up against more powerful programs that offer better Mac interfaces.
At the bottom of the barrel, Emailer squeaked out 2 percent of the vote with a little ballot-stuffing help from a mention on the Emailer mailing list, Outlook Express and Web-based mail garnered barely 1 percent, neither QuickMail nor America Online managed to break 1 percent, and other clients, like GyazMail, Mulberry, Nisus Email, and Magellan combined for 3 percent of the vote. The low showing of the Mac OS 9-only clients isn’t unexpected, given that people still relying Mac OS 9 likely aren’t bothering to read news sources like TidBITS, since there is almost no news related to Mac OS 9 any more. Web-based mail is supposed to account for a significant percentage of users in the overall Internet population, but the fact that only 22 people (admittedly, up from 4 in the previous poll) said they use Web-based mail clients may indicate that TidBITS readers aren’t an entirely representative in this regard either.
Our polls don’t pretend to be statistically significant, but it is interesting to pick up a rough sense of the lay of the land from the responses. Thanks for participating!