What your email provider says about you

Hunch Blog runs a rather massive statistical study of users of different email providers – Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, and AOL.  I’ll just copy the snapshot of findings here for my own quick references.  But you, you should have a look at the original article.

  • AOL users are most likely to be overweight women ages 35-64 who have a high school diploma and are spiritual, but not religious. They tend to be politically middle of the road, in a relationship of 10+ years, and have children. AOL users live in the suburbs and haven’t traveled outside their own country. Family is their first priority. AOL users mostly read magazines, have a desktop computer, listen to the radio, and watch TV on 1-3 DVRs in their home. At home, they lounge around in sweats. AOL users are optimistic extroverts who prefer sweet snacks and like working on a team.
  • Gmail users are most likely to be thin young men ages 18-34 who are college-educated and not religious. Like other young Hunch users, they tend to be politically liberal, single (and ready to mingle), and childless. Gmail users live in cities and have traveled to five or more countries. They’re career-focused and plugged in — they mostly read blogs, have an iPhone and laptop, and listen to music via MP3s and computers (but they don’t have a DVR). At home, they lounge around in a t-shirt and jeans. Gmail users prefer salty snacks and are introverted and entrepreneurial. They are optimistic or pessimistic, depending on the situation.
  • Hotmail users are most likely to be young women of average build ages 18-34 (and younger) who have a high school diploma and are not religious. They tend to be politically middle of the road, single, and childless. Hotmail users live in the suburbs, perhaps still with their parents, and have traveled to up to five countries. They mostly read magazines and contemporary fiction, have a laptop, and listen to music via MP3s and computers (but they don’t have a DVR). At home, Hotmail users lounge around in a t-shirt and jeans. They’re introverts who prefer sweet snacks and like working on a team. They consider themselves more pessimistic, but sometimes it depends on the situation.
  • Yahoo! users are most likely to be overweight women ages 18-49 who have a high school diploma and are spiritual, but not religious. They tend to be politically middle of the road, in a relationship of 1-5 years, and have children. Yahoo! users live in the suburbs or in rural areas and haven’t traveled outside their own country. Family is their first priority. They mostly read magazines, are almost equally likely to have a laptop or desktop computer, listen to the radio and cds, and watch TV on 1-2 DVRs in their home. At home, Yahoo! users lounge around in pajamas. They’re extroverts who prefer sweet snacks and like working on a team. Yahoo! users are optimistic or pessimistic, depending on the situation.


Yahoo + Microsoft vs. Google et al

The big news of last week were of yet another attempt by Microsoft to buy Yahoo.  If you missed all the buzz, Web Worker Daily has a really nice round-up with separate links to facts (read: press releases) and opinions (read: speculations).  If that’s not enough for you, you can always find more with Google, Slashdot, and Digg.

Many online news sources continue to be completely dominated by discussion of Microsoft’s hostile bid to acquire Yahoo! And no wonder: a deal of this magnitude has the potential to touch the lives of pretty much everyone living and working online. It’s a rare web worker indeed who doesn’t use something from one or another of those two companies in their daily lives.

So, first, can it affect me personally?  Yes.  I don’t use any Microsoft/MSN/Live services, but I can’t live without Flickr and del.icio.us, both of which belong to Yahoo now.  Also, I do occasionally use Upcoming.

Now, what do I think about this whole thing?  Well, I think it shows how desperate Microsoft is.  The general trend is towards the web, not the desktop, where they still rule.  Most of their own web services turned out to be pretty lousy.  They want to get online, and they are willing to pay a lot of money to get their fast.  Mostly, of course, this is a war for a place under the advertising sun.

From the Microsoft view point (I think), Yahoo looks to be online.  More than so.  Yahoo is the second most important company online after Google.  And Google is giving Yahoo some rough time.  And Microsoft realizes it clearly, that Google is partially to blame for this whole trend towards the web.  And it also realizes that if it is serious about moving online, it’ll have to compete with Google in one area or another.  So it makes even more sense to acquire Yahoo.  From the Microsoft point of view (again, I think), Yahoo appears to know what they are doing.

And that’s where I see their biggest mistake.  Yahoo is indeed the second most important company on the web after Google.  But it struggles to be there, and it struggles even more to keep Google in sight.  Because it is falling pretty far behind.

A little side note: I think there is a war of concepts between Google and Yahoo. It’s bigger than just advertising space or anything else.

  • Yahoo started off with a directory of links, which was better than many at a time because it was moderated by humans.  Google started off with bringing huge improvements to machine based indexing and searching.  Yahoo:Google – 0:1.
  • Google brought this whole concept of clean user interfaces and simplicity for the end user.  Yahoo stayed and expanded on the old idea of portals, which bring all possible and impossible to the front page of the site.  Yahoo:Google – 0:2.
  • Google made a stake on the brilliance of its people – if the service is properly done, it’ll grow by itself and bring in more users.  Yahoo played it safe, trying to purchase web services that already have momentum.  Yahoo:Google – 1:2.

End of side note.

Overall, I think that this is a bad move on Microsoft part.  If the acquisition will happen, I think, it’ll damage both companies, and, maybe even, drive at least one of them into the ground (eventually, not immediately).  Yahoo, being at the position it is now, needs more flexibility.  The online space is getting more and more competitive.  That’s where you need to move fast.  Yahoo made some really good acquisitions before, and I’d say that they have some sense in this area, but they need more speed with integration of their acquisitions into their backbone.  With Microsoft on board, I’m afraid, everything will get a lot slower.

Also, I think that Yahoo won’t win much from this acquisition.  Surely, some money will come their way, but it’s not always a good thing.  And I don’t think that it’s good in this particular case and at this particular time.   I believe it would do much more good for Yahoo to get smaller, faster, and “hungrier”.  Hunger (think: limited resources) makes one’s mind sharper.  That’s exactly what they need now.  Not more “fat”.

As for Microsoft, I think there strategy should be more directed towards entertainment.  If they really want to buy something, they should buy some entertainment companies.  Those that produce content.  Disney studios maybe? Or some sort of a deal with AOL/Time Warner (they had a few frictions in the past, but they seem to managed to work out a solution together).  With more and easily accessible content they can reinforce end users interest in their Windows desktop, as well as their gaming platform (Xbox thing), and their mobile platform (Windows Mobile).  And, entertainment content by itself is a rather popular thing among the end users, which makes advertising much easier.  And rich advertising too – not just text-based relevant web ads, but audio and video media.

What do you think about all this?

Good bye, Netscape

People all over the web are saying good bye to Netscape.  Since Mozilla and Firefox started to get better, Netscape sort of faded away.  Now it faded away so far that AOL decided to end the support for the browser. This is the time when thousands of people all around the world, including yours truly, suddenly felt very old and broke out into uncontrollable nostalgia…

If you want to read more about the sentiment, here are some links for you:

Passing messages between Google Talk and ICQ

Recently Google announced that GTalk users can now communicate with AIM users.  I didn’t mention it here and, in fact, didn’t pay it much attention since I don’t use AOL Instant Messenger.  Why do I suddenly come back to this announcement?  Well, because my memory played a Grand Failure Play on me.  Here is a quote from Wikipedia page about ICQ:

ICQ was developed in 1996 by Mirabilis. The company was founded by four young Israelis: Yair Goldfinger, Arik Vardi, Sefi Vigiser and Amnon Amir. After AOL bought it, it was managed by Ariel Yarnitsky and Avi Shechter.
America Online acquired Mirabilis on June 8, 1998

This was almost 10 years ago.  ICQ is still popular among a few million users.  AIM is also popular among a few million users.  Isn’t two popular instant messaging protocols just a little bit too much for one company?  Well, it’s not too much, if these two protocols share a lot in common.  Do they?
Yes, they do.  That’s why you can go to your Gmail right now, navigate to Chat section of the Settings, and login into AIM with your ICQ credentials.  It’ll just work.  You’ll get all your contacts from the ICQ server populating buddy list of your GTalk.  You’ll see who is online and who is not.  You’ll be able to send and receive messages to your ICQ contacts from GTalk. And you’ll have the history of your communications saved in your Gmail in exactly the same way as you have it with GTalk.  Wow!

(Note that there this functionality is still very young and there are a few issues here and there, but I’m sure they will be ironed out in the nearest future.  One of the annoyances for now though is encoding problem when receiving ICQ messages in Russian, and possibly some other languages too.)

I’m really glad to see such integration.  I do use Gmail for a lot of communications and contact related work, and having ICQ/AIM integrated with it helps me to keep it all together.  Hopefully, there will be more and better integrations with  other communication tools – Yahoo Messenger, Skype, Twitter…

You are what you search

Don’t you just love it when something that you’ve been seriously suspecting, and trying to explain to people, is suddenly mentioned by someone else, together with some statistical data to back it up? Well, I do.

As you’ve probably heard by now (a billion times), AOL has recently released a few million records of its users’ search history. Plenty of people jumped on to it – all for their own reasons. One guy, among these people, studied the data and came up with this report (linked to from this Slashdot post), categorizing people into seven groups, based on their search terms.

Here is a quote from the article that made me feel glad and proud:

My favorite plots show hours of G-rated searches before the user switches gears—what I call the Avenue Q Theory of Internet usage. User No. 190827 goes from “talking parrots jokes” and “poems about a red rose” before midnight to multiple clicks for “sexy dogs and hot girls” a half hour later.

I’ve been saying for a long time – you can be romantic and kinky at the same time, and there’s nothing wrong with it, many of us are.