What does your email provider say about you?

Gmail, Yahoo!, Outlook and AOL: four email providers with four different personalities. If you use one of these providers, chances are that you’ll share some personality traits with other users of the same service. So, what does your email provider say about you?

Four email services, four typical users

Sometimes you’ll see an @yahoo.com email address and, without having met the person, will assume that they’re really into weather forecasts. If you see an @outlook.com address, you already know they’re a Windows fan. These may be stereotypes, yes, but some stereotypes are based on fact; certain email accounts seem to have more of one type of user over another. Basically, it’s a combination of statistics and taste.

With the help of our identity reconstruction team, we’ve created four identities for four typical users: Gmail, Yahoo!, Outlook (Hotmail) and AOL. Because this exercise is purely for entertainment purposes, you many not exactly fit the profile, but it can give you some insight into the target market of each service.

Gmail: Maurice, the customization geek

Gmail: The customization geek

Gmail on Android

Forty-three windows in three Chrome tabs, and Gmail is one of them. It’s appearance couldn’t be more complex; its owner, Maurice, has organized all of his mail with colored labels. He likes having his digital life under control: “I have over fifty rules to filter mail,” he says proudly, while adjusting his Google Glass. Hung on the wall, there’s a framed slogan: “If you can’t customize it, it’s not worth it”.

That’s why Maurice has chosen Gmail after years of classic POP. “Gmail is the most intelligent app I’ve ever used. Its interface is simple, but as you get into it, it becomes more complex”. His predisposition for intelligent and customizable applications is reflected in his choice of mobile operating system, which is Android: “The seamless integration with Gmail is reason enough to use it.”

A tip for Maurice: try IMAP support with Thunderbird

Ads will soon appear on Gmail for Android, and Maurice probably won’t like it. The same goes for the web version. If you’re like Maurice and want to keep enjoying an untethered mailbox, trying activating IMAP support and using Thunderbird.

Outlook: Albert, the inveterate gamer

Outlook for Windows Phone

Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox- Albert is all about Microsoft. He uses Windows Store apps for Windows 8. His email account, of course, is Outlook.com: he’s had it since 1999, when he opened a Hotmail account. Albert, who was a passionate Messenger user, now uses Skype daily to talk to his friends on his Surface tablet.

“For me, Outlook is an essential part of the Windows experience. I can’t live without it.” And it’s true. With your Microsoft account, you can do it all: play, store files on the SkyDrive (which he adores) and install Metro Apps. And Outlook is currently the only free email service that doesn’t scan the message content for advertising. “Hotmail has always been the most reliable and secure,” he says, smiling.

A tip for Albert: make the leap to Outlook 2013

Being an enthusiastic user of Windows 8, SkyDrive and Outlook.com, the natural jump for Albert is to upgrade to Outlook 2013, perhaps the best advanced email client for desktop. And while he’s at it, he should check out Office 2013.

Yahoo! Mail: Iris, the trend follower

Yahoo! Mail: the trend follower

Yahoo! Mail on iPhone

It’s seven o’clock in Iris’ house. She’s having breakfast with her iPad and reading the news on Flipboard. Then she checks the weather with the Yahoo! Weather app and reads a few emails using, what else, Yahoo! Mail. “I’ve always liked the colorful, friendly style of Yahoo! It’s less geeky than the alternatives and it does exactly what I need,” she explains. She should know – she’s had her account for more than twelve years.

Once she’s ready, she gets in the car, drops the kids off at school and goes to work in the city center. “During breaks, I play a few games of Candy Crush Saga.” she says. But the famous candy game is not her only hobby: she also browses Pinterest to satisfy her “craving for beautiful things”. Back home, Iris checks her email again and sends WhatsApp messages via her iPhone.

A tip for Iris: take advantage of your Yahoo! account

Yahoo! hasn’t only radically changed its appearance (and logo), but it’s giving all of its products a complete makeover. Iris may not know it, but with her Yahoo! ID (which is just her email address), she can also enjoy the newly made-over Tumblr and Flickr.

AOL Mail: Wilson, the guardian of tradition

Aol Mail: the guardian of tradition

AOL Mail on Windows

“It’s my first and only email account,” says Wilson, a heroic user of AOL Mail, but to be honest, it could just as easily have been any other email provider. He started browsing and sending emails before the .com bubble burst. “It seemed like a cool concept, the internet and all that, you know?” He loads his mail from Outlook Express, and checks it every day at eight in the morning and eight in the evening. Everything runs on his old XP PC.

Asked if he would prefer to switch to another (more modern) email like Gmail or Outlook, he shakes his head. “As my grandfather used to say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. So I don’t.” The respect he has for technology borders on the superstitious, and it shows: the system seems to run as if it were new, and the desktop is incredibly clean. For him, the Web 2.0 revolution is nothing more than a spot of color in an ad banner.

A tip for Wilson: choose an alternative to Outlook Express

Outlook Express, as well as being pretty clunky to use, is dangerous for the multitude of vulnerabilities it presents. The best thing for Wilson to do is migrate to an alternative desktop mail client, such as the successor to Outlook Express, Windows Live Mail.

What about you? Which one fits the mold?

Do you use Gmail but can see yourself in Albert? Are you a Wilson but like Iris’ lifestyle? Perhaps these profiles, which are really just our imaginations running a little wild, speak volumes to you. Maybe it’s time to test out some new options when it comes to email and applications.

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