Over on RWW this morning, Sarah posted asking the question, “how important is offline access?”. She states in her post that;
by focusing on an offline web, one has to wonder if this is really progress: if we wanted an offline word processor, well…don’t we already have several of those available already? Shouldn’t a product like Google Docs be more focused on what makes them unique in the office suite space instead?
I can’t help but think Sarah is missing the point here. The entire rationale for SaaS delivered office productivity apps to allow for the sort of value ads that only this form of delivery allows, things like data mashups ad real time collaborative ability.
Sarah’s contention that buy offering offline functonality vendors are somehow trying to reinvent desktop software is patently absurd. What they are trying to do is to ensure that the excellent functionality they already deliver isn’t constrained by short term connectivity outages.
The fact is that Sarah writes from Tampa, Florida. I’m fairly sure she enjoys both internet speed and reliability in the top percentile of the global norm – but there’s the rub, Google and Zoho are attempting to create a viable and credible product that works for all users – not just the hyper-connected ones. To do so they rightly realise that they need to allow for inevitable outages, they also need to make their offerings sufficiently light to work with low bandwidth users.
So yes Sarah, Offline access is, and will continue to be for the forseeable future, important.