When Firefox 3.0 is released later this year, the open-source browser is likely to support an interesting new feature called offline web applications. This will be a significant move because you’ll be able to use your web apps (like Gmail, your online calendar, an online collaborative spreadsheet, or even a sales tracking app while the executive is on the move, etc.) in the browser even when offline. So when you are offline (not within internet access proximity) you will still be able to interact with your applications, and sync the data once you are back online.
In terms of offline web apps, developers have to primarily overcome the hurdle of how to store data locally on the client computer, maintain security of the data, and then integrate it seamlessly (sync it) with the server-based web app. Word on the street is that Firefox 3.0 will also have SQL Lite, a small, embedded database, that will eventually be used for full-text indexing of the browser’s “history.” I suspect a lot of local data storage issues with offline web apps could be resolved with utilizing a low-footprint embedded database.
Just another step towards the next generation Internet paradigm: The web is the database; and the browser is the platform.