Microsoft’s war with Google certainly hasn’t been fought solely on the mobile OS and search front, as a great deal of Microsoft’s efforts have also been about bringing users away from Gmail and over to their new Outlook.com email service.
As you probably already know, Microsoft’s Outlook is a replacement to Hotmail, and seems to be much more strongly integrated into Microsoft’s product experience (including Windows). The big question is whether or not Outlook can build itself a following or not.
The answer seems to be a resounding yes. The service was first revealed in July of last year and is now finally shaking off the “Preview mode” as it announces that it has reached an impressive 60 million active users, not bad for a relatively new service.
While some of these users are no doubt converts from the older Hotmail, they can’t all be. In fact, Microsoft breaks it down and says that a third of these users actually come directly from Google’s Gmail.
So what’s the key to Microsoft’s success with Outlook.com? I’d say they are several factors involved. While many of Microsoft’s campaigns against Google have backfired, I’d say that their “Scroogled” campaign has had some success, and many Gmail users have jumped ship due to fears about privacy.
Beyond that, Microsoft set out to do transform their interface into something fresh, something great. This is similar to what they did when they ditched their older search efforts and rolled out Bing. Bing was a massive improvement to the older MSN search, and the same goes for Outlook’s interface being world’s better than Hotmail.
Is that it? Honestly I think brand recognition is a third factor of great importance here. Outlook has been a popular email client for PC users for a long time, so you have to wonder why it took them this long to realize that this was an opportunity for webmail, too. Anyhow, using the name Outlook or Hotmail can be just as important to the rise.
Just thinking of “hotmail” as a name, it seems like a casual service that isn’t as professional. I think many of us associate Outlook as something more premium and professional, so branding could certainly play a role.
Whatever the case, expect Outlook to continue to play a role in Microsoft’s future, and likely start to integrate its way into other Microsoft products going forward as well. Additionally, now that they have left their “Preview Mode” days, expect a stronger advertising push. In fact, Microsoft has already launched a multi-million dollar campaign to that affect.
Here’s just one of the current Outlook ads out there now:
Have you switched to Outlook yet? If so, what did you use before? For those that haven’t, what’s keeping you from making the switch? Share your thoughts below.