Google is introducing a new feature, called MailFetcher, to Gmail that turns the webmail service into a full-blown POP3 client. Information on the update, which is being rolled out but has yet to grace my account, can be found in the Gmail FAQ. This is a sea change for web-based mail services. Google now provides the ability to send and receive e-mail from any account. The service offers ever-expanding storage and a unique and powerful tagging feature that eliminates the need for hierarchical folders – which is a profoundly broken metaphor that no longer works in this day and age of 500+ e-mail messages every day. Oh... it also has the best anti-spam filtering of any webmail service IMO.
Michael Arrington at Techcrunch decalres that Gmail "just got perfect" in a post bout the new MailFetcher feature:
I am seriously considering switching from using my desktop email client to Gmail. Since I work from multiple computers, using web mail eliminates the syncing problem. If Google implements an offline version of Gmail, in a similar way as Scrybe or via Adobe’s Apollo platform, it will become even more compelling.
Well Mike, in essence, any e-mail client you'd like to use can provide some of that functionality right now. And Morfik, an Australian company that produces an AJAX development environment, has already proved that desktop Gmail is a technical possibility. So it's only a matter of time before Google or an enterprising third party (with good lawyers) deliver this last piece of the puzzle.
David Chartier at downloadsquad wants to know why Google doesn't just go the rest of the way and embrace IMAP. I'd like to see that. Imperfect a protocol though it is, IMAP is worlds better than POP3 for those of us who use many devices and wish to have access to a single mail store.