Email Client Market Share: New Stats

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Updated stats: Check out platform opens by month through September 2012!

We’ve taken another in-depth look at our aggregated Email Analytics statistics to examine how subscriber open behavior is changing. I’m always shocked to see how quickly subscriber behavior changes, especially in regards to mobile adoption.

Among our findings:

  • An 80% increase in smartphone and tablet opens over the last six months
  • More than double the number of Android opens from our 2011 figures
  • The month of February saw an even split between mobile, desktop and webmail opens for the first time ever.

Has your audience gone mobile?

It’s easy to get these stats for your own lists using Email Analytics. Break down your open rate and find out if your audience has gone mobile.

Click on the graphic below for an enlarged view.

Email Client Market Share: June 2012


  • Silje Moan

    Interesting stuff! Are these stats US only – or global?

    • Justine, Litmus

      Hi Silje, this is for all our customers worldwide.

  • Spencer Kollas

    Are you tracking just unique opens or total? Just wondering if a number of people are opening in multiple locations

    • Justine, Litmus

      Hi Spencer, this is based on total opens. Unique opens would be tricky for us to analyze since we’re not sending the emails (and not all our customers are using merge tags with a unique ID).

      Also, we’d have to make some tough calls on which opens to ‘exclude’ — if someone opened on their desktop, and later on their phone, which open would you count?

      Stay tuned for a follow-up post on this very topic, though!

      • Spencer Kollas

        thanks for the info–that was exactly what I was wondering. I know I check emails on the phone all the time and go back and open them on my desktop if they are important so which do you count is the key, or are you counting both. I look forward to seeing more from you all on this.

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  • Six Degrees

    It might be interesting to see some advanced segmentation, ie. industry. Perhaps those in a computer science or related field will be quicker to adopt new technologies, thereby showing more mobile opens when in fact other industries are not equal.

    • Justine, Litmus

      Thanks for your feedback! We frequently get requests for segmentation by B2B vs B2C, industry, vertical, etc.

      At this time, we don’t ask our customers using Email Analytics to report these statistics, so we’re unable to track specific segments within the data.

  • Stephan de Paly

    Hi, while this is an interesting infographic I would be a lot less sure about the dominance of the iPhone. After all it is no secret that the iPhone native Email client is one of the very few that loads pictures by default. Gmail and most webmail clients or their respective apps don’t.

    This obviously tilts device open rates strongly towards the iPhone and should be considered or at least mentioned when comparing mobile opens by device.

    Those who tend to have high click rates may gain some additional insights by looking at your web analytics. If you are using analytics tracking variables in your links you can get a pretty good idea about which clients your clickers are using.

    • Justine, Litmus

      Hi Stephan, thanks for your feedback. We recognize that some email clients and devices (Apple Mail, iPhone, iPad) may be over-represented due to the prevalence of image blocking. This information is noted at the bottom of the graphic.

      Specific client data aside, I find the most valuable aspect of this data to be the overall upward trend of mobile opens. Whether or not you take image blocking into account, it’s undeniable that opens on smartphones are rising rapidly.

      • Stephan de Paly

        Hi Justine, that is definitely true. 😉

  • Just

    this is crazy – you are showing IPhone as a “Client” when IPhone users are offered one of the same big six Microsoft and webmail accounts to choose from when setting up email for the first time. Therefore your IPhone stats should show Opens for each of the main email services it suggests to users surely?

    • Justine, Litmus

      Hello and thanks for your feedback! In most cases, iPhone users connect to their webmail and/or Exchange account via IMAP. After this point, Email Analytics uses the ‘user agent’ string sent from the mail application on an iPhone in order to detect where an email was opened.

      The mail application on the iPhone reports itself as “iPhone” for all types of webmail services – it does not distinguish the particular service used. Users that access webmail services directly with their phone (i.e. by using Safari on an iPhone to navigate to are reported as “Gmail using iPhone” and would appear as a Gmail open, with a mobile category. These opens represent less than 3% of the total mobile opens we track.

      Since the application used to open the email is what determines how it will be displayed/rendered, it’s more useful to see the ‘client’ (in this case, iPhone) rather than the underlying mail service used.

      You can read more about how Email Analytics works, and the limitations of the product, in our help articles:

  • Justine, Litmus

    Hi Korrine! Blackberries are harder to track as they do not enable images by default. Even worse, they ask the user for confirmation at least 2 times before turning images on! We’re always looking for different ways to track opens, though :)

  • Justine, Litmus

    Thanks, Ryan! After pulling these stats month after month, I’m still frequently shocked at what I see. It’s amazing to see how subscriber behavior changes over time!

  • iphone app developers

    Hi, It’s really informative and interesting post. Thanks for sharing.

  • System D Group

    Thanks so much for providing such great information — I love the engagement from this community in the posts below as well. Within my team I’m the sole email strategist and hearing from others through the comment threads on Litmus is something I find really valuable!

  • Brad Einarsen

    Great research and infographic, thanks for sharing this! The fact that iPhone is now higher on the list than Outlook is pretty compelling.

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  • Derek

    Do you know if people are using wifi or their phone connection when viewing on a mobile device? Is there any way to get that information?

    • Justine, Litmus

      I’m sorry, we don’t. We’re able to track the types of email clients and devices by detecting what’s called the “user agent” that the program reports back to us. That doesn’t include any data regarding how the email was accessed. I imagine the only folks that have that type of data are the providers (AT&T, Verizon, etc.) themselves.

      That said, I might imagine some other research has been done via surveys for this. Maybe look into ComScore, Forrester, etc?

  • Justine, Litmus

    I think that depends on a lot of factors: how well optimized the email is for conversion on a mobile device (is the call to action easily “tappable,” is the landing page optimized for mobile conversion, etc.)

    Litmus is unable to track clicks (we’re not sending the email so you’d need to match our open stats to the click stats from your ESP), but some of our customers have done some research into mobile clicks/conversions. Check out Responsys, ExactTarget, MediaPost and Clickz for some good articles.

    As for whether or not users glance at emails and then go back to their desktop later to buy — we do have some data on this:

    We found that only 3% of emails are viewed in more than one environment (i.e. both on a mobile device and a desktop), so based on that data I’d say that you get one chance to get your reader to click, regardless of where the email is viewed.

  • acwent

    I polled about a hundred business and non-business email users and found that people will use their smartphones / iPhones to act as a window into their desktop-based email, alerting them of short notice requirements. They would give short answer replies with the mobile device but wait to produce a more complete response once they were back at their laptop / desktop email client due to ease of use. I did not ask about mobile pad devices.

    • Lauren_Litmus

      Thanks for your comment! I’m really interested in your survey and I’d love to see the results – do you have them posted somewhere?

      We’ve found that only 3.3% of people will view a single email in more than one environment (both mobile and either desktop or webmail). That means nearly 97% of emails are viewed only once! That being said, they must be optimized for viewing in ALL types of inboxes (mobile, webmail & desktop). Check out this great article from our friends at ExactTarget on designing for all inboxes:

  • Brien Patterson

    It would be easier to swallow these stats if you didn’t have Hotmail listed so high. I’m pretty sure my 75 year old father-in-law is the only person using Hotmail for anything these days. I also think Gmail is woefully under represented due to not opening images by default. Perhaps the discrepancy lies with the fact that I have U.S. centric view. As your research is worldwide, do you have any stats that break down by region?

    • Justine, Litmus

      Thanks for your feedback, Brien. We do readily acknowledge that image blocking plays a factor in these stats, although there are many differing opinions on the demographics of webmail users. As Hotmail has rolled out user-friendly inbox management features, it’s become a more attractive option to the less tech-savvy users that Gmail tends to attract. Even AOL is innovating in the webmail space with their new Alto product.

      Also, as you pointed out, our stats are based on opens worldwide. We frequently get requests for segmentation by regtion, industry, vertical, etc. At this time, we don’t ask our customers using Email Analytics to report these statistics, so we’re unable to track specific segments within the data.

      • nsummy

        I realize that this is an old post but Outlook also does not open images by default which may cause it to be underrepresented.

        As a 31 year old system administrator I still use the same hotmail account as I did in the late 90s. To me its better than gmail due to the fact it easily integrates with outlook. With MIcrosoft’s push to office365 the new web interface looks like outlook and to me makes it more powerful than gmail’s. Of course every one in awhile someone will still make fun of me for using hotmail but honestly the days of gmail being trendy because of the unlimited storage are over.

        • Justine, Litmus

          Older versions of Outlook (2003 and prior) did enable images by default. However, Outlook 2007+ does block images by default.

          Gmail and Hotmail/ both have their pros and cons, that’s for sure! I know plenty of folks that have stuck by their webmail provider for years due to specific features/functionality.

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  • Mark Robbins

    Outlook 2003? I had pretty much written that off. Didn’t realise anyone would be using something 10 years out of date let alone it being the biggest desktop client. Shocking stuff.

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