Back in February we upgraded our campus email service, which also meant upgrading our webmail provision. Previously our webmail provision really only supported 400 users before becoming unusable. Our new upgraded service is sitting at 2000 concurrent sessions (plus or minus 500).
A couple of weeks ago it broke. Classic thick client email (thunderbird, pine, mail.app, outlook/imap) stayed working. The old unlamented webmail service which we'd kept going because of initial teething problems with the new service stayed up. Only the new webmail service was offline.
A year or so ago, one would have expected to see a spike in connections from thick clients. It didn't. It might have been a little busier, but not by much. What rapidly ended up waving its legs in the air was the old slow unreliable webmail service.
Students didn't try using thick clients. The meme appears to be that email is now something accessed via a web browser, accessible anywhere you have a web connection including your phone.
Interesting implications. Providing a hosted Google Docs like service might have even more ...