Yes, nerds may prefer "x << y" 10:1 over "x <lt> y", but there are many
users who will hate them both. And those users will complain to the
senders, and the senders will stop sending text/rich to non-MIME mailers,
making the looks of text/rich utterly irrelevant.
This brings us nearly full circle on an old argument. To the degree to
which your observation is true, you have just said "users won't be able
to tolerate richtext without composing and display agents". But, if we
basically assume that composing and display agents are going to be
required for all functions except debugging (and nerd-nerd
communication), then it is rational to make the language richer and let
it support a broader range of specifications.
Down that path lies not merely <verbatim>, but SGML with a fairly rich