Google Follows Its Mail Customers Offline

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) is tired of always being the away team. Now it wants to go home.

Google's Gmail is starting to offer email access and reasonable functionality, even when a user is offline. Folks will still need to adjust their settings and download the free Gears program that makes it possible, but once they're all set up, Gmail will have a local cache -- continuously updated -- of your email from Google's servers. In other words, if your Internet connection temporarily dies, you will still be able to retrieve old messages and write new ones. Naturally, you will still need to re-establish Web access for outgoing mail to actually get through, but it's a welcome new feature.

Google's Calendar offering is getting a similar experimental makeover.

Connectivity has always been the Achilles' heel of cloud computing. Whether it's companies turning to salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM  ) for enterprise software solutions or the growing popularity of Web-based threats like Google Apps, Sun Microsystems' (Nasdaq: JAVA  ) OpenOffice, and Zoho for Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Office, the trend is clearly about moving data out of your computer and onto a central server. Cloud computing makes it wickedly convenient to access your files from anywhere you can tap into a connection, but it's a drag when you're not online.

As Google and others begin to close the connectivity gap, does Microsoft stand a chance? Of course it does. The real question is if Microsoft will need to discount its premium prices, given the growing free -- or nearly free -- alternatives.

Google's move also raises the stakes in providing Web mail services. Gmail still has a way to go to catch up to its three largest email competitors -- Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) , Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX  ) AOL, and Microsoft's Hotmail -- but it's gradually closing the gap. Online mail is certainly not as lucrative as search, but it's a sticky offering that keeps users close to your portal.

The online competition is getting so hot that it's boiling into your offline world, too.

For related Foolishness:

Stock news, financial commentary, and your daily dose of Foolishness: Get plugged in to The Motley Fool on Twitter!

Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Google is a Rule Breakers recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz isn't calling for a search engine search party, but he may as well. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (3)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 819161, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 8/29/2014 10:10:21 PM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...


Advertisement