Gmail users are younger and more worldly, study says

A Web recommendation engine took a look at the tastes of users to draw conclusions about them based on their Webmail service

Do use Gmail? If you do, chances are you're an urban-dwelling, world-traveling careerist with a hankering for potato chips, according to a recent survey by personalized Web recommendation engine Hunch. The service took a look at the personal tastes of its users to draw some interesting conclusions about people based on their preferred Webmail service.

Hunch generates personal recommendations for Web services it thinks you might like by asking you a set of 20 or more questions such as "Do you live in a city, suburb or rural area?" or "How do you interact with people at a party?" Based on these answers, it was able to draw some interesting conclusions about people based on their e-mail addresses.

Turns out AOL e-mail users tend to be suburbanites, Yahoo Mail fans are family-oriented and Hotmailers are a pessimistic bunch.

Here's a detailed look at some of Hunch's findings.

Ageism

Overall, the vast majority of e-mail users tend to be between the ages of 18 and 34, according to Hunch's survey of more than 450,000 users. In the 18 to 34 age group, the most popular service appears to be Gmail, with 68 per cent of users surveyed. Hotmail follows at 58 per cent and Yahoo Mail is next at 53 per cent. AOL claims about 38 per cent of the 18 to 34 crowd.

If you're between 35 and 49, then 34 per cent of you are likely to favor e-mail services other Gmail, Yahoo or AOL. These can include services such as your own personal domain or your alma mater society's ".edu" e-mail. You're next most likely to be using Yahoo (30 per cent) followed by AOL (22 per cent) and Hotmail (24 per cent).

If you're under 18, chances are you're not that into e-mail and will just choose whatever service is available. Hotmail has a slight lead with this group at six per cent of users followed by AOL, Gmail and Yahoo at four per cent. Senior citizens gravitate primarily to Hotmail (24 per cent) and AOL (22 per cent).

Early adopters

Were you in line for the first iPhone, iPad or the Samsung Galaxy Tab? If so, then chances are your e-mail address ends in Gmail.com, according to Hunch's survey of more than 96,000 people. Early adopters favor Google's e-mail at 31 per cent of those surveyed, followed by 28 per cent using a non-mainstream Webmail service. Yahoo Mail users are the least likely to be early adopters at 15 per cent.

But when it comes to e-mail, it turns out that AOL users and non-mainstream users may be the most savvy. Hunch surveyed more than 32,000 people to determine that about 18 per cent of AOL users surveyed have been using e-mail before 1992; while 19 per cent of non-mainstream users were using e-mail before 1992.

General personality

AOL people tend to be older women ages 35 to 64 with a high school education. They are spiritual, family-oriented, suburban, haven't traveled the world and prefer sweets.

Gmail users are likely to be men ages 18 to 34 who are urban, college-educated, career-driven, childless, tech-savvy and prefer MP3s over CDs.

Hotmail fans tend to be women ages 18 to 34 who are suburban, high school educated, have traveled to up to five countries and prefer to lounge around in a T-shirt and jeans.

Yahoo Mail adopters are likely to be women ages 18 to 49 who are suburban or rural dwellers, high school educated, have children, and favor pajamas when hanging out at home.

I guess your e-mail address really can say a lot about you. Of course, one thing this study doesn't really touch on is that many people have multiple e-mail addresses crossing all of the four major Webmail brands. What if, for example, you primarily use Gmail, but also maintain a Hotmail, AOL and Yahoo account as well as an account at your own domain? What does that say about you? Tech savvy? Disorganized? Compulsive? Too many e-mail addresses?

To find out more about the personalities behind the Webmail brands check out Hunch's interactive portraits of each typical Webmail user.

Connect with Ian Paul ( @ianpaul ) and Today@PCWorld on Twitter for the latest tech news and analysis.

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Ian Paul

PC World (US online)

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