The more simultaneous client connections your POP, IMAP, or HTTP service can maintain, the better it is for clients. If clients are denied service because no connections are available, they must then wait until another client disconnects.
On the other hand, each open connection consumes memory resources and makes demands on the I/O subsystem of your server machine, so there is a practical limit to the number of simultaneous sessions you can expect the server to support. (You might be able to increase that limit by increasing server memory or I/O capacity.)
IMAP, HTTP, and POP have different needs in this regard:
IMAP connections are generally long-lived compared to POP and HTTP connections. When a user connects to IMAP to download messages, the connection is usually maintained until the user quits or the connection times out. In contrast, a POP or HTTP connection is usually closed as soon as the POP or HTTP request has been serviced.
IMAP and HTTP connections are generally very efficient compared to POP connections. Each POP reconnection requires reauthentication of the user. In contrast, an IMAP connection requires only a single authentication because the connection remains open for the duration of the IMAP session (login to logout). An HTTP connection is short, but the user need not reauthenticate for each connection because multiple connections are allowed for each HTTP session (login to logout). POP connections, therefore, involve much greater performance overhead than IMAP or HTTP connections. Messaging Server, in particular, has been designed to require very low overhead by open but idle IMAP connections and by multiple HTTP connections.
For more information about HTTP session security, see 23.2 About HTTP Security
Thus, at a given moment for a given user demand, Messaging Server may be able to support many more open IMAP or HTTP connections than POP connections.
The default value for IMAP is 4000; the default value for HTTP is 6000 connections per process; the default value for POP is 600. These values represent roughly equivalent demands that can be handled by a typically configured server machine. Your optimum configuration may be different; these defaults are meant only as general guidelines.
Typically, active POP connections are much more demanding on server resources and bandwidth than active IMAP connections since IMAP connections are idle most of the time while POP connections are constantly downloading messages. Having a lower number of sessions for POP is correct. Conversely, POP connections only last as long as it takes to download email, so an active POP user is only connected a small percentage of the time, while IMAP connections stay connected between successive mail checks.