Mozilla have announced that Firefox 3 is to provide support for using web applications offline — despite, as developer Mark Finkle admits, most users not needing it.
The development of offline apps is awarded a higher priority than some other features I would have thought more desirable — fuller SVG support, for example — so why the emphasis on a feature that is only of interest to a small proportion of users of a small proportion of the browser market?
I suspect the reason might be that it’s a request from their closest business partner: Google. It’s no secret that Google and Firefox have an unofficial relationship, and last year Google announced their business office suite.
I don’t think you have to make a great leap in imagination to see the benefits to Google of having a browser which can use those apps offline; it might be the final incentive for a lot of offices to finally think about ditching Microsoft’s desktop products and start using Google’s free alternative — with the extra advertising revenue that generates.
It looks like Firefox 3 could be the long-rumoured Google browser in all but name.