The Dying Thunderbird

The Mozilla Corporation (MoCo) currently produces two products: the Firefox web browser and the Thunderbird email, feed, & NNTP client. On 2007 July 25, Mitchell Baker, the MoCo President, posted an Email Call to Action and announced that:  
We have concluded that we should find a new, separate organizational setting for Thunderbird; one that allows the Thunderbird community to determine its own destiny.
In the 131+ comments to Mitchell's post and in lots and lots of other places, people are speculating about why MoCo decided to do this. My first thought was that this was about money because MoCo is a for-profit entity and Thunderbird does not bring in much, if any, revenue, especially compared to the millions of dollars that Firefox brings in. But, after thinking about it more and reading Mitchell's 5+ followup posts in her blog, I think that the main reason is that Thunderbird and traditional email clients in general are dying. I even posted about this myself in comp.mail.imap on July 24 and 25, before I knew anything about this letting-Thunderbird-fly plan. Here is an excerpt of my July 24 post:
. . . my guess is that [Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft] will not [support IMAP]. My prediction is that they will support annotating messages and that will be another step towards the death of IMAP . . .
And here is an excerpt of my July 25 post:
> What would replace [IMAP] ?

Maybe something proprietary but with an "open API", or maybe APP (Atom Publishing Protocol), or . . .
My subconscious has known that traditional email was dying for awhile, as you can see in these 2006 blog posts and this 2005 blog post (where I said that the Web 2.0 messaging "world doesn't really care about IMAP or SMTP"), but it was only during the last few days that I realized that the old SMTP+POP+IMAP way of doing email is truly dead. And that explains why there exists no good SMTP+POP+IMAP client and why no one is working on producing one [*].

For more about this, see the blogs that link to Mitchell's Email Call to Action and the del.icio.us Thunderbird tag.

To send feedback to Mozilla about this, post a comment in Mitchell's blog or use the mozilla.org feedback system

[*] Except for the University of Washington C&C, but if the UW were serious about producing a good usable SMTP+POP+IMAP client, they would use some of their $100,000 MATC award to hire a user-interface expert to fix the Alpine (formerly Pine) sucky user interface.

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