Desktop or Web Mail?

On Monday Mitchell posted the article Thunderbird — Differences in response to comments on her Email Call to Action post from last week about the Thunderbird’s Future. Mitchell points out that there seems to be a trend of folks moving away from desktop based e-mail clients (Outlook, Evolution, Thunderbird, etc):

  • Web mail usage grows. Younger generations in particular use other techniques.
  • There are many parts of the world where email is less common than in the US, Western Europe or Japan. For example, in parts of the world where Internet cafes are a major way of accessing the Internet desktop email is not the norm.

I have a couple problems with these above statements, mainly the first one. With you get a free e-mail account(s) with your domain and/or hosting. Anytime I sell a new domain, hosting package or even an additional e-mail accounts (if they want more than one e-mail box for their domain) I am almost always asked, “How do I set this up in Outlook or MacMail or Apple Mail?” (sadly I have yet to have anyone ask about Thunderbird). Further, when people are having trouble with Outlook and we suggest they access via the free web mail they almost always rather use their desktop e-mail client. However, I can see where Mitchel is coming from with the second point. Those customers who are wanting to use Outlook are in the US. Those in other parts of the world such as India and Australia never ask about setting up in a desktop e-mail client.

One more thing, if the trend for e-mail is shifting from desktop e-mail clients to web based (web mail) then why is Netscape developing Mercury to accommodate the Netscape 9 Navigator browser? Mercury is going to be a desktop e-mail client based off of Thunderbird.

6 Comments on Desktop or Web Mail?

  1. I’d say businesses are more inclined to using desktop email clients. And I guess your clients are businesses mainly.

    Regarding Mercury, I’d say because AOL has no clue on what to do. Or they are laundering money through via developers’ payroll. Who in this world cares about Netscape? About 0.5% according to most browser statistics. I don’t see the point of developing Mercury if it’s not for pushing it down AOL users’ throats.

    Funny thing is they probably don’t have that in mind either. After all, they keep developing Netscape while they’re still using IE for their client.

    Aside from this spot, I pretty much agree web mail is the way of the near future (and some other thing in the further future). If Gmail adds offline support through Gears or Firefox’s own implementation it will be even less compelling to stick to a desktop client.

  2. Good points! Especially about Netscap.

    I am still amazed how many people use AOL. Once I complete a sale I always advise them they will be getting a confirmation e-mail. There are times I barley finish saying that when I hear the familiar (at a volume level normally reserved for movie theater previews) “You’ve got mail!”.

  3. i actually remove windows outlook on my pc. if you remove outlook and could ie explorer and just surf with firefox you would not need spyware protection.

  4. @sim
    depending on your Windows version, you can remove ie. there’s a guide somewhere but i can’t remember where. try googling it.

    btw, ie explorer is like atm machine: “internet explorer” explorer, or “Automatic Teller Machine” machine

  5. yes jon but they will cripple your abilities to use the windows update site.

  6. @sim
    no, it won’t. FF has an extension which allows it to use the ie rendering engine, which fools the windows update site into believing you are on ie

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