Email is clearly the most efficient way for governments to reach
citizens. According to David Daniels, Vice President of JupiterResearch, “87%
of Consumers online time is spent reading their emails” (Dec. 2007).
Not surprisingly, most citizens use common operating systems,
browsers, and email clients to register for subscriptions and read their email.
More than 95% of citizens registering for government
subscription options hosted by GovDelivery use a computer equipped with a Microsoft
Windows operating system, and more than 85% use Internet Explorer. The
following chart shows the browser operating system combinations for one federal
Email client and ISP choices are a bit more diverse, but
there are still clear winners. Citizen subscribers, at a rate of 65.7%, receive
government emails sent through GovDelivery at one of the top 5 email domains, including
Yahoo!, AOL, Hotmail, Gmail, and Comcast. We can only assume that the vast
majority of citizens are using the email clients provided by these vendors to
read the messages, and not forwarding the messages to a separate email client,
such as Mozilla Thunderbird or Microsoft Outlook. The following chart shows the
ISP usage statistics for all GovDelivery subscribers.
The GovDelivery statistics are fairly consistent with overall
US Internet usage. While it may be tempting to disregard the small minority of
users who use Macintosh, Linux, or PalmOS, government serves everyone. When it
is viable, I know that governments want to accommodate these users.
Accommodating email clients and operating system/browser
combinations includes avoiding commonly unsupported content, like Flash,
sending emails using common protocols, like Multi-Part MIME or Plain Text that
most email clients can render. As technology evolves, and more citizens use more
mobile devices to access their email, being flexible will be even more