Much like its browser cousin, Chrome, Google’s Gmail e-mail service has changed its product category. Gmail joined the webmail fray in 2004 and kept its public beta designation for an incredible five years. The service’s innovative conversation view, minimization of spam, and fluid interaction with other Web sites has gained it many devotees as the cool e-mail to use. But it suffers from an unlovely text- and link-heavy interface, and it lacks many social and other tools available in the recently updated Windows Live Hotmail (Free, 4.5 stars) and Yahoo Mail (Free, 4.0 stars) Web apps. Perhaps this is why Gmail is still far behind those two in U.S. and worldwide usage, according to numbers from Compete and Hitwise.
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