According to comScore:
“Hotmail, recently renamed Outlook.com, ranked as the top web-based email provider in Europe with 108.2 million visitors (up 1 percent vs. year ago) for an average of 1.9 hours per user during the month. Google’s Gmail ranked second in the Email category with 74.7 million users but saw a much stronger growth rate of 18 percent over the past year. “
This is a significant finding because most users of PCs run that other OS and have many opportunities to encounter M$’s services so these new users are actively seeking alternatives. Further, M$ apparently sees less value in the trademark “Hotmail”, and discards brand loyalty. I don’t see M$ being able to stem the flow with just a change of name. It remains to be seen whether their “cloud” activity will somehow revitalize their growth in e-mail. With “8″ in the pipe-line there’s nothing special on the horizon for e-mail for the users not now locked in.
At this rate, by 2015, Gmail should overtake Hotmail. Competition on price/performance is good. We should see all sectors of IT seeing similar sharp competition from now on because the desktop monopoly on which Wintel pivots is on its last legs. M$ has a policy of not engaging an enemy’s strong points. Apparently e-mail is one.