As a long term SMF user myself I think you've summed it up well and it is still a popular solution for a large number of forum owners.It shouldn't be that much of a surprise. SMF, despite its glacial development cycle, is a proven product that has been around for a long time. It's often available as a 1-click install from shared hosts, it's free, reliable, lightweight, and it does what it says on the tin.
SMF developers have spent some time making their software very easy for new forum admins, from the simple (almost Wordpress-like) process of install and updating, to installing add ons (of which there are plenty). It's quite easy to customize the look and feel too. Whether you like the software or not, there's no doubt SMF has done a great job of delivering a solid, easy to use product for running a forum.
It's really hard to say. Every site I visit has a different platform at the top of their list. My gut feeling is SMF is probably close to the top in terms of installation numbers because it's a free, one click operation to get it up and running. It's also been around for some years now.Is this install count even accurate?
Without regard to vBulletin, MyBB and PhpBB, I agree with you - SMF is ugly. Ugly and old looking. Reminds me of gmail. I hate / can't stand using it's interface, but it does everything I want it to do and doesn't cost anything.SMF is ugly!
I would not use it even if they paid me $x,xxx per month to utilize their software.
The same goes for vBulletin, MyBB and PhpBB.
Well duh. Of course it's subjective and has nothing to do with how well the software does. It's how it looks! I don't care what you skin it with, I can spot a SMF forum a mile away. It's functionality and price overcomes its looks.Ugly is a subjective opinion that has little to do with how well the software does what it's meant to.