Thunderbird usage is on the rise

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 10, 2015
Updated • Jun 26, 2017
Email, Thunderbird

Thunderbird usage is on the rise according to latest usage information published by Mozilla on the official blog.

The email client that celebrated its eleventh birthday on December 7 crossed the 10 million Active Daily Inquiries (ADI) mark for the first time on November 30, 2015.

Mozilla measures usage by counting the pings it receives from the product it maintains. The email client is configured to check for plugin blocklist updates regularly, and that's where the 10 million figure comes from.

That's however not the final user count as one needs to take into account users who don't use the email client on a daily basis, and environments where Thunderbird is being used but pings are blocked by security.

Based on past studies, 2.5 is being used to estimate the total active users of a program, and that is 25 million in the case of Thunderbird.

This is not exact science on the other hand but if the same multiplier is being used throughout the years, it should paint a clear picture of the rise and fall of user levels.

thunderbird users statistics

The graph that Mozilla published highlights not only the breakthrough, but also the countries that most Thunderbird pings come from.

The top five countries are Germany, Japan, United States, France and Italy.

For comparison purposes, check out the state of the desktop email client Thunderbird which features another graph that highlights the yearly ADI growth.

Pings grew by about 2 million since mid-2012, the time when Mozilla decided to put the email client on the backburner and make it more or less a community maintained project. Considering that this was achieved without marketing or an advertisement budget, it is certainly impressive and one has to wonder where the email client could stand today if Mozilla would have made it a priority instead.

Mozilla announced plans recently to drop Thunderbird completely. The idea expressed by the organization would make Thunderbird a standalone open source project maintained by a dedicated team. Mozilla wants to back the project financially in the beginning and lend support to it as well to make sure it is off to a good start.

The blog post on the official Mozilla blog indicates that the process is already underway. Thunderbird's temporary home for the foreseeable future is the Mozilla Foundation, but that is just to ensure that the project has a legal and financial home for the time being.

This means as well that the Thunderbird project may accept donations directly which will benefit the project directly.

Now You: What are your hopes and wishes for an independent Thunderbird project?

Thunderbird usage is on the rise
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Thunderbird usage is on the rise
Despite Mozilla's intention to drop the email client and make it an independent project instead, Thunderbird usage is on the rise.
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  1. Fitzcarraldo said on April 16, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    I have just upgraded to Thunderbird 45.0 (Beta 3), the latest version I can find for Gentoo Linux (an ebuild is in the mozilla overlay). I hope the Thunderbird developers can keep up the good work; Thunderbird is one of the most important applications I use.

  2. CBA said on March 25, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    I use Thunderbird (2010-06-29) as it does what I want. Receives and sends emails via pop. Fast, small footprint and easy to maintain. Had to drop some add-ons, but, no big deal.

    Why should I upgrade to the current (or a more current) version? Anyone. Thanks.

  3. greg said on December 11, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    Anybody tried Geary? What were your impressions?

    I like Geary’s UI design better, but I like the about:config that Thunderbird offers.

  4. JimP said on December 11, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    Softmaker Office changed their default email client to Thunderbird a year or so ago – that may account for the spike in usage

  5. Dave said on December 11, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    If only there was some kind of “Mozilla Foundation” who’s purpose was to maintain and develop projects like this. If only…

  6. Tom Hawack said on December 11, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    I hope and I even think Thunderbird will be maintained, one way or another. At this time, besides FossaMail, I see no alternative, at least none close enough to what I know of and like in Thunderbird. I’m not fond of Webmail even if I have a Webmail account for when I move around and am tied to the necessity of ‘live” email. I’m of those who like PCs and appreciate to forget the Web once out of home.

  7. Leandro said on December 10, 2015 at 11:39 pm

    I use Thunderbird. It is superb! Too bad Mozilla wants to decommission it.

  8. Mick said on December 10, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    Have used it for years, the best as far as I am concerned. Love the add-ons, just like with FF.

  9. Jason said on December 10, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    Thunderbird was a good email client I used on Linux and Windows, but after reading “In the Plex” I developed a level of trust with Google and took up Gmail (now Inbox). Couldn’t see going back to a static client that doesn’t work across multiple devices. Maybe if I wasn’t forced to use Outlook at work I could see using it there. Of note I still have it installed and look up old email on occasion adding to their pings which doesn’t really show an active user.

  10. Angry Thinker said on December 10, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    Apparently Mozilla is in talks with LibreOffice, who are interested to integrate it with their office suite to be able to offer a complete package.

    1. Dave said on December 10, 2015 at 4:38 pm

      I don’t want the LibreOffice team to get Thunderbird. That whole “save button” thing was their public announcement that they do not understand UIX at all. If they’re reading they might want to look up the difference between Icons, Indices and Symbols.

      1. Angry Thinker said on December 10, 2015 at 4:55 pm

        Well, you go tell them this, and they will probably abort the project. On the other hand, they may have learned a thing or 2 so they might just impress you yet.

  11. Maelish said on December 10, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    I want to express my derision for the absolute tomfoolery in ditching Thunderbird. It is completely moronic.

  12. Earl said on December 10, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    Given that “e-mail” protocols haven’t changed since forever, many use [much] older releases of Thunderbird with impunity (esp. with Gmail–scanned for your safety [plus, text email works just fine]). Pings? …what pings?

  13. Max said on December 10, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    Thunderbird succeeding – so _that’s_ why Mozilla want to ditch it.
    Maybe if Mozilla had put Firefox on the backburner, instead of wrecking it, then Firefox usage would still be going up too.

    1. dblevins said on December 10, 2015 at 9:43 pm

      here here

  14. TIm said on December 10, 2015 at 11:21 am

    “Pings grew by about 2 million since mid-2012”

    Could it be due to Microsoft ditching the built-in desktop Mail program and replacing it with a Mail app instead? Maybe the increase has come from those who found the app too dumbed down compared to desktop software?

    With Window Live Mail pretty much abandoned and Office Outlook too expensive just for home use, Thunderbird would be the best solution available to people who wanted something more advanced than a basic Mail app.

    1. Parash said on October 23, 2016 at 11:20 am

      Could not agree more!!

  15. Dentonthebear said on December 10, 2015 at 11:08 am

    Spinning off Thunderbird in to a separate entity seems short sighted, it would end up with two different groups of people working on code that is used by both projects. Instead treat Thunderbird as an equal to Firefox and give people a suite of products with the same turnover of updates. Plus as I have commented elsewhere on this site better integration in the Windows Domain/GPO environment would help wipe the floor with Microsoft Outlook.

  16. Rocky said on December 10, 2015 at 10:31 am

    Interesting reading . A lot of Linux distros use Thunderbird (or Icedove in the case of Debian). Not sure if these would be included in the stats as they may not ping Mozilla being restricted to their own repos for updates etc ? Personally have always found Thunderbird a little heavy but an interesting project nevertheless.

    1. Dentonthebear said on December 10, 2015 at 11:09 am

      Could you define what you mean by ‘have always found Thunderbird a little heavy’.

      1. Dave said on December 10, 2015 at 4:31 pm

        He means it’s heavier on system resources than something like M2. He’s not comparing it to Outlook.

  17. Dave said on December 10, 2015 at 10:25 am

    Thunderbird has always been an excellent product, and it’s handy that it’s built on XUL and can be modified in the same way as Firefox.

    1. Lestat said on December 11, 2015 at 8:14 am

      A reason why Mozilla wants to drop it. Xul and customization, that is something Mozilla does not want to support anymore, as they have decided that design and minimalism is more of value.

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