While email services from Indiatimes and Rediff were popular a few years back, the rise of Gmail has seen Google take away lion's share of email traffic in India. Sure, some people have stuck around with Yahoo and Hotmail but it's rare to see someone sporting @Indiatimes or @Rediffmail email address anymore. As MediaNama notes as well, it is likely that the company feels the cost required to keep the service alive no longer justifies the return (in terms of advertising), hence the decision to shut it down.
Existing users are being warned to backup any data before 18th February 2013 at 12PM, the proposed shutdown time of the service.
Update: Since our original story, Indiatimes has updated their home page to say IMAP is enabled for all users, and also added a FAQ regarding the same. Kudos to the team.
However, in the absence of POP3/ IMAP support, it is not clear how the users are expected to back up their emails. It would have been nice of Indiatimes to either offer one-click backup of emails to all users or enable POP3/ IMAP for all accounts until shutdown, and provide detailed instructions to users on how to backup their emails.
Here's the message that appears on the website (text in bold added later):
This is to inform that the Indiatimes.com Email Service will stop accepting new users from 19th November, 2012.
The Indiatimes.com Email Service ("Service") will be discontinued and shall be permanently shut down with effect from 18th February, 2013 at 12 PM (Indian Standard Time).
You will no longer be able to send or receive mails or access your account for the purpose of reading mail and/or transfer any data (i.e. emails, tasks, documents, folders, appointments, and/or contacts) currently saved in your account post 18th February, 2013 - 12 P.M(Indian Standard Time). You are advised to immediately download all your emails/contacts/data from your Indiatimes mailbox via IMAP at the earliest.
You can continue to log in to all Times Internet Limited network sites using your Indiatimes.com email address.