- The spam, virus, and phish problem.
- Handheld and other mobile devices that people want to use to access their email.
- Very cheap remotely hosted disk space.
Unfortunately, now that I've spent a lot of time trying to shoehorn my dream messaging system into IMAP, I've come to understand why people don't like the IMAP protocol. It sucks. It really really sucks. But, it's what we've got, it has arrived, and it is here to stay.
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You forgot to mention, incidentally, that the Lemonade effort within the IETF is extending IMAP (and Submission, ESMTP's profile for message submission) very heavily to deal with mobile devices and other environments.
Coming out of this work are not only the technical tricks to make IMAP substantially faster (and it's fast already), but to make IMAP support features to build more usable clients.
As for remote addressbooks, I've had them for the past couple of years on ACAP, and that works fine for me.
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