The idiosyncrasies of many South African Internet users – their nomadic nature in the job environment and the propensity for international business travel among a large proportion of them – has sparked a boom in the use of free web-based e-mail services.
The best-known international services of this kind, Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail, compete actively in the South African market with Webmail and Ananzi Mail, as well as with lesser-known services like Myiafrica.com.
These services vary significantly in both functionality and usability, but all offer a common set of basic features as well as various features specific to individual brands.
The Goldstuck Report on Web Free-Mail in South Africa evaluated the services across a wide range of these features and functions, including account set-up, spam-handling and address-book facilities.
The findings were that the most effective of the international services is Hotmail, which also happens to have the largest numbers of users, both internationally and within South Africa specifically. Among homegrown South African services, Webmail has the largest number of users, and hence the most effective branding, while Ananzi Mail emerges from the survey as the most effective service.
The South African services also enjoyed a significant speed advantage over their international competitors, underlining the benefits in usability that result from local hosting.
According to “The Goldstuck Report: Web Free-Mail in South Africa”, more than half a million free web-based e-mail accounts are in active use in this country.
“There are two great idiosyncrasies of South African Internet users: their nomadic nature in the academic and job environment among younger users, and the propensity for international business travel among a large proportion of older users,” says Arthur Goldstuck, the leading industry analyst who conducted the research on behalf of independent consultancy World Wide Worx.
“While web-based mail services can be of benefit to almost any user, it is especially attractive to the Internet nomad – a new kind of user we are breeding in South Africa.”
The increasing tendency of companies to monitor personal e-mail has also boosted the popularity of the services, says Goldstuck. At the same time, he notes, the ability to maintain a private e-mail account on the web enhances the ability to job-hop, thus feeding the lifestyle of the Internet nomad.
Key findings of “The Goldstuck Report: Web Free-Mail in South Africa” included the conclusion that the most effective of the international services was Hotmail, which also had the largest numbers of users, both internationally and within South Africa. However, South African services had several advantages over their international counterparts:
* they enjoyed a significant speed advantage, underlining the benefits in usability that result from local hosting;
* they also provided users with far greater capacity for storing e-mail than did any of the international services – with Ananzi, Myiafrica and Webmail all offering more than double the storage space of the international leaders in this area.
Among homegrown South African services, Webmail had the largest number of users, both as a result of its longer history and its strong branding, while Ananzi Mail emerged from the survey as the most effective service, due to its high ratings on functionality and speed.
1. Executive Summary
Free e-mail and the government
Benefits of existing free e-mail services
3. The Research
Number of subscribers
Discovery and sign-up process
Visibility on parent site
Ending the session
Persistence of log-in
Cancellation of accounts
Advertising on e-mail
Dilution of brand
Obtaining the report