Google’s New Hybrid Model: Gmail, Offline

Jan.29.09 | About: Alphabet Inc. (GOOG)

In a previous blog, I suggested that a new model of a ‘hybrid’ software company is emerging in which Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and cloud computing vendors are offering downloadable appliances, or ‘applets,’ which permit users to utilize their web-based solutions off-line or behind the firewall.

My friends at (NYSE:CRM) and other SaaS zeolots in the industry said I was crazy. But, many SaaS other vendors told me they were already offering an appliance option to their customers.

This week Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) endorsed my idea by announcing that it is offering a offline version of its Gmail service.

Some folks expected this functionality in 2007, when Google introduced Gears, its browser plug-in aimed at providing offline access to Web-hosted applications. In fact, Google has been offering an on-premise search appliance for a while.

I believe the Gmail announcement is another example of a growing array of offline enhancements being added to SaaS/cloud computing solutions that will become commonplace in the years to come.

SaaS and cloud computing purists might view this development as a bastardization of the on-demand service ideal. In my view, Google’s new option and other offerings like Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Silverlight or Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) Air are simply the latest advancements in technology aimed at addressing real customer needs and preferences. In fact, Zoho unveiled its own offline email solution in October.

I think these offline capabilities will make SaaS/cloud computing more convenient for users, and will eliminate one more customer objection to adopting on-demand, web-based services which will help to accelerate the growth of the market.

Disclosure: None