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Maybe there could be a few options? Download all mail, download by month, download by year? Seems like they could solve that problem pretty easily and would be very awesome.

Offering different zipfiles for months/years wouldn't solve the problem. "The problem" is that when you have hundreds of millions of users, the easiest mechanism needs to be an efficient mechanism. Adding links for months/years would still leave the easiest mechanism as the least efficient: I know that I, personally, would continue to download the "all mail" zipfile just to ensure that I didn't miss anything. I cannot imagine my mother or grandmother doing anything different.

I don't think it would. That would then be something I would have to set up reminders for and then what if I forget it for a few days? I would have to remember when I last backed up and set that as the starting date. Of course google could remember that for me but we're now getting closer and closer to what IMAP already does better.

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