When I was a new breastfeeding mom with latching problems and contemplating exclusive pumping, I was told by one of the lactation consultants I met with that choosing to exclusively pump would lead to a short-lived breastfeeding career. As I grew older (in terms of breastfeeding years!) and wiser, I realized that it IS possible to exclusively pump long-term and I have developed a high regard for exclusively pumping moms.
My own sister-in-law exclusive pumped for 6 months for her son. I have known other mothers who have exclusively pumped for 1 year or more for their babies. There is even a group for exclusive pumpers (or EP-ers). When acquaintances and clients ask me if it is still possible to breastfeed exclusively even without latching, I tell them YES but it takes hard work. Exclusively pumping would mean pumping at least 8x a day, waking up at night even when your baby is asleep, purchasing and using a good quality pump and keeping to the schedule no matter what. I also advise them to read relevant websites and inspiring blogs.
Recently, an article about increasing number of exclusive pumpers came out in TIME. Tanya of the Motherwear blog pointed out some items that needed clarifying - such as same health benefits and bottle feeding issues. For moms who rarely pump and are able to be stay at home moms and directly nurse their babies, fiddling with the pump and taking time to pump and clean the paraphernalia is tedious and time-wasting. However, as a work-out-of-home mom who started with pumping 4x a day at work, I realized that once the routine is established, setting up and cleaning pump parts becomes automatic, leading to less time needed as mom becomes more practiced.
I do think agree with the article that a major reason for the surge in exclusively pumping moms would also be the wide availability of pumps and the marketing efforts by the pump manufacturers. And as emphasized by Tanya, good information and help is essential as well as support for moms who are contemplating exclusive pumping.