Offline Web mail? Oxymoron?

Gmail is going offline.

OK, not totally. But their new, “offline” service allows you to use Gmail in your Web browser even when you are offline. It behaves just the way it normally would, according to a Google press release (cleverly disguised as a Google Labs blog post), by saving a snapshot of your last Gmail session in your computer’s memory (“cache”). You can then do everything you are normally used to doing in Gmail, but your outgoing messages will be stored in the Outbox until you are re-connected to the Internet.

The new service uses Google “Gears“, which is a browser plug-in that taps several Google application programming interfaces (APIs), in order to make your Web-based apps function like native desktop applications. So, you must install Gears to make offline Gmail go.

This raises a question for another post: how in the world is Google making any money from all this? Stay tuned…

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