Mobile is Now the Preferred Platform for Reading Email with More than Half of All Email Opens

Jul 27, 2017

The rise of mobile technology has transformed the world in many ways, including the way users interact with email. Mobile email opens have nearly doubled over the past five years and more than half of emails are now opened on mobile devices, according to a new research report from email solutions provider Return Path.

The Email Client Experience analyzes the breakdown of platforms and devices that people use to open email. The report also looks at when people are most likely to open email, as well as the length of time they typically spend reading an email. Data from May 2016 to April 2017 is compared with results from a similar study in 2012.

Following are a few of the report’s key takeaways:

Mobile is preferred nearly 2:1 over webmail. During the period analyzed, 55% of email was opened on mobile devices—up from just 29% in 2012. By contrast, webmail opens (meaning email opened on an internet browser like or dropped 26% over five years—from 37% to 28%. Desktop email (defined as email opened on software that is installed on a desktop or laptop, like Outlook or Apple Mail) had the lowest share of opens with just 16%—down from 34% in 2012.

iOS continues to dominate Android. While email opens on both iPhone and iPad have fallen slightly over the past five years, iOS still maintains a huge advantage over Android. Combined, iOS accounts for an overwhelming 79% of mobile email opens, compared to 20% for Android. In 2012, just 14% of mobile emails were opened on Android, while 85% were opened on iOS.

Gmail has overtaken Yahoo in the webmail race. Webmail still holds a significant percentage of email opens, and Gmail has emerged as the clear leader in the webmail space. In 2012, just 6% of webmail opens occurred on Gmail; that figure jumped to 59% during the period analyzed. Yahoo has experienced a precipitous decline over the same period, accounting for just 5% of webmail opens during the study period—down from 37% in 2012.

Mobile opens peak on the weekend; webmail and desktop gain during the workweek. Not surprisingly, the greatest percentage of mobile email opens occur on the weekend—60% on both Saturday and Sunday, compared to a range of 51 to 55% Monday through Friday. Accordingly, both webmail and desktop opens increase during the workweek, when people tend to be in front of their computers. Webmail opens hold steady at 26% on the weekend and about 29% during the week, while desktop accounts for just 13% of opens on the weekend and 16 to 19% during the week.