The big news over the next day or so is going to be the fact that Google Mail, the web mail software used by millions of people, went down around 12:53pm today. Aside from the inconvenience and immense loss of productivity this will cause (basically, a worldwide version of that “cubicle gopher” cartoon from Dilbert–where everyone pokes their head up and asks if email is down), it demonstrates why it seems that being able to work offline still matters.
William Chow, co-founder of Mobophiles, picked an auspicious time to launch a beta of the the firm’s software application, Mobolize, this morning. Will–who I’ve known and worked with in a prior life–tells me that offline access, in case of lack of a wireless connection, and a downed server (like Gmail), is one of the reasons he developed the firm’s software. The defining line, so far, between PC-installed software and software-as-a-service has been availability even in the case of network or server failure. That line–which is particularly sharp in enterprises and the Fortune 500–has prevented software-as-a-service from gaining greater traction, because companies are very, very risk adverse to having their entire company and business shut down from a third party provider going offline. This might be something simple–a temporary problem with the service, which is likely the problem here with Gmail–or it could be something greater, like a company actually going out of business.
In Mobophiles case, it’s aiming initially at Microsoft Sharepoint, which typically has lots of important corporate data but is difficult to access on the road. But, the same issue comes up with any, web-based applications, whether that is Google’s Gmail, Salesforce.com, or any other key IT system.
In any case, it’s clear that being able to access your data, even if the world, your network, or your software provider goes offline, is important, still.