The battle for offline

I mentioned previously that Firefox 3.0 is going to have support for offline apps, and the likely impact this will have. Interesting to note, then, that Adobe have made a forage into this market too, by releasing a product called Apollo. Summary: From a customer's perspective, Apollo will seem like Flash works when offline.

The surprising thing is that the release of Apollo has caused more of a stir than the coming release of Firefox 3.0. The Adobe marketing machine is perhaps the most effective part of the busines! Adobe have a track record of over-promising on their products, and as this guy succinctly points out, Apollo will be on a closed platform, which will be a turn-off for those who are thinking of developing on this platform.

In my eyes, the beauty of the Firefox solution is that it'll be lightweight. It'll have to be, otherwise people will drop Firefox altogether. It'll be so lightweight, in fact, that people won't even realise that they have it. For most people it will just be a free upgrade, and take-up will go through the roof - especially when Google and others start offering offline support for their popular services.

On the other hand, I think Apollo will be a niche product. Having to download the latest Flash plugin is already a barrier to adoption. Their main hope (at the risk of sticking my neck out!) is that someone comes up with a killer app that the kids just have to have.

And if you don't agree, ask yourself this; if you run online services for a blue chip company, would you want to invest time and money locking yourself into Adobe's closed product, or would you rather devote your resources to a free, lightweight solution which already has very decent market penetration across a very appealing demographic?

GigaOM has an interesting commentary on this subject, making the point that Microsoft aren't even in this battle. How times have changed...


Update: Mr Tiddlywiki himself, Jeremy Ruston, has pointed me in the direction of this - offline wiki editing. Interesting!


Update 26/4/07: Just wandering back over old blog postings and found this error, which I'd like to correct. Of course Microsoft are in this game, WPF is a very impressive product. It sits on the .NET 3.0 platform, so it'll only work on Vista or, if you specifically download .NET 3.0, it'll work on XP. But one could argue it is in this space. Mea Culpa.

Wouldn't have happened if Microsoft had marketed this product as well as Apollo though...I mean, really! WPF? No wonder it slipped under the radar! They've renamed WPF/E, why haven't they renamed WPF?