Gears of war: Google takes the fight offline

Google CEO Eric Schmidt may have stopped short of covering that great Steve Ballmer classic “Developers, Developers, Developers,” but the song remained the same. On its 2007 worldwide Developer Day, the search sovereign rolled out an early version of an open-source toolkit that can be used to enable online applications to work offline and told the assembled multitudes, “See what you can make of this.” And in doing so, the company took a big step toward challenging Microsoft on its home turf.

The toolkit is called Google Gears and it works as a browser extension to allow Web-based applications to work with data on a local machine without being connected to the Net. As an example, Google has equipped Reader, its RSS feed manager, with the ability to download your unread content for offline browsing, then re-sync on reconnection. The next logical targets are, of course, the productivity applications like Google Docs and Spreadsheets that offer alternatives to Microsoft products, at least for some users (see “The chart on this first slide shows Google’s total indifference to Microsoft“). And beyond that? The goal is nothing less than becoming the de facto standard for such applications, tilting the balance of power from the operating system toward the browser, and for that, Google is counting on developers. “With Google Gears we’re tackling a key limitation of the browser in order to make it a stronger platform for deploying all types of applications and enabling a better user experience in the cloud,” said Schmidt. “We believe strongly in the power of the community to stretch this new technology to the limits of what’s possible and ultimately emerge with an open standard that benefits everyone.” Well, maybe not Microsoft.


Share this Post

  • Google- coming to a desktop near you! Seems like a good idea though- people without great connections can work then re-sync at the local WiFi coffee shop. Might also be good for productivity in the developing world.