By BoLOBOOLNE payday loans

Why Google Gears matters in an always-connected broadband world

An obvious trend in this industry is towards more pervasive internet access with bandwidth steadily increasing.  The build-outs of WiMax networks, 3G cellular networks and metropolitan WiFi efforts promise to offer broadband-class connectivity to all major cities in the US within the next couple of years.  Suburbs and extended metorpolitan areas will quickly follow.  Even airplanes should have reasonable net access before too long — Virgin America will have it next year.

In this environment it’s tempting to design products that assume customers will always be well connected.  It is certainly easier to build compelling services to users that have a good pipe to the net on them at all times.  So this begs the question: If customers will soon always have good broadband net access, why do we need a client-side data store like Google Gears?  For example, somebody working on a subscription music service might conclude that it’s a waste of time building portable mp3-players with local storage since soon enough everyone will have broadband access everywhere, so why not just stream the music off the net?

There are several good reasons why client-side storage is still important and will continue to be important into the future:

  • Wireless net access sucks down battery.  Always will.  It’s physics.  Local access to data will always cost less battery.  This won’t change no matter how pervasive broadband is.
  • Pervasive net access is expensive. Arguably we’re already in a world where some people have pervasive net access.  Verizon EVDO cards do pretty darned well in this country, for $60/month.  But it will be a long time before most people have it.  Higher speeds will always demand a premium.
  • Net access is unreliable.  Especially wireless access, but wired too.  Packets collide.  Transmission patterns have nodes.  Routers flap.  Cables get unplugged.  Laptops wake up and can’t figure out where they are for a while.  Something gets misconfigured.  If your software is designed to gracefully degrade when the network is unreliable, your customers will be happier, because it’s going to happen.  Remember what Outlook/Exchange was like when the entire Outlook UI would freeze while waiting for the Exchange server to respond to any request?  Please don’t do that to your users.

Once web applications are fully embracing it, Google Gears will close most of the functionality gap between native-client applications and web applications.  I believe it’s really important, and I’m really glad that there’s industry consensus around Google Gears and that other offline browser storage projects have deferred to it.  I’d hate to see web app developers trying to choose between several different client-store plugins.

  1. […] Wow!  This is gonna be great.  I’m actually not all that excited about offline access, which is valuable but increasingly less important as time goes on.  I’m very excited about the faster UI we’ll get from not having to send packets […]