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Pretty sure gmail supported POP from day one, and it has supported IMAP since 2007 [1]. The problem is that gmail's mail organizational system is sort of incompatible with POP/IMAP and completely incompatible with a number of clients. That started to change around 2010 when gmail had been so popular for so long that the standards and clients started to accomodate gmail's way of doing things.

Desktop MUAs won't suddenly become popular now. A generation of users has been brought up on webmail, and the idea of using a separate program for email on the desktop isn't familiar to them.

[1] http://www.wired.com/2007/10/google_adds_imap_support_to_gma...

I think the main thing is that people see no difference between gmail and other web messaging (eg Facebook) anymore. It's a text box on a website.

I completely agree. Just during the last 24 hours I've heard someone repeatedly using expressions like "I've sent you a Gmail" or "Yes, you can send a message from Outlook to Gmail". As if Gmail was just another messaging service, along the lines of Whatsapp, WeChat or Line.

The person in question is someone who became "computer literate" relatively recently (at least compared to me, I'm 37 and always been tinkering since I was a kid) and has become accustomed to most on-line services while using smartphones and tablets, not a personal computer.

That person is not alone. To be honest, I think most people under 20 and most people living in developing countries went down a similar path (mobile first) and have a similar understanding of messaging platform.

But aren't users also used to using mobile mail apps, not websites? At least for iOS users, I could imagine them being comfortable with Mail.app.

You'd think, but the shift from desktop apps to web apps happened concurrently with the rise of mobile apps. It doesn't seem that users think of mobile and desktop apps the same way.

$weed = "yes please"

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