Good thing Gmail is out of beta. It is now the third largest Web mail service in the U.S. In July, Gmail nudged past AOL Email with 37 million unique visitors compared to 36.4 million for AOL, according to comScore estimates. (Gmail is the orange line in the chart below). That puts Gmail within sight of the No. 2 player, Windows Live Hotmail, which has 47 million unique visitors. After that there is a wide gulf separating Yahoo Mail and its 106 million monthly unique visitors.
The last time checked on Gmail’s progress was at the beginning of the year, when it seemed like it would still take at least two years for it to catch up to its nearest rivals. But so far this year, Gmail’s unique visitors grew 25 percent, while AOL’s declined 22 percent. Thus, the two crossed paths in July. (Hotmail grew only 8 percent during the same period, while Yahoo Mail increased unique visitors by a healthy 16 percent).
If Google wants Gmail to pass Hotmail quickly and gain the No. 2 spot, my suggestion is to keep pumping in new enhancements through Gmail Labs and to speed up the pace at which mail storage increases. Not that I am a typical user, but I am already at 97 percent of my allotted 7,358 megabytes. One of the primary lures of Gmail has always been its seemingly endless and ever-expanding storage limits. Please don’t make me pay for more storage.