There was a time when Mozilla’s email client, Thunderbird, was just as exciting a game-changer as Firefox. These days, we can’t help but wonder if Thunderbird—and most desktop email, for that matter—is doomed.
Web site ComputerworldUK discusses the decline of Thunderbird, whose adoption rates “are an order of magnitude lower” than Firefox. They assign the blame to a couple of things: First, that Thunderbird add-ons are nowhere close to as game-changing as Firefox add-ons, so no one is talking about how they couldn’t live without Thunderbird and extension X. More importantly, however, the author claims that email itself is dying—and that more and more, people are turning to relatively spam-free forms of opt-in communication like Facebook and Twitter.
You’d have to pry Gmail from my cold, dead hands before I’d move all of my internet communication to Facebook or Twitter, but the fact remains: Thunderbird has lost its luster. But so has desktop email in general, especially as sophisticated web-based email like Gmail offers its own killer add-ons via Gmail Labs—including offline Gmail, which delivers a deathblow to one of desktop email’s greatest features: offline access. More often than not, the only people I know that use Thunderbird do so only to regularly backup their email—which they access over the web.
Many readers have agreed with this point of view, but we’d like to hear more about what you think. Is Thunderbird, and desktop email in general, going the way of the dodo? What would it take to get you using Thunderbird as your primary email client? Whether you agree or disagree completely, we want to hear more about your relationship with desktop email in the comments.