Persistent Web Apps and Small Businesses

Last week I featured an interview about the future of affiliate marketing and the Web. My interviewee, Sam Harrelson, talked about how in the future we may be accessing the Web without the use of a browser.

This morning I ran across an extension of that same idea, from venture capitalist Fred Wilson. The name for the technology is “persistent Web apps.” Fred writes one of the best plain-English descriptions of what persistent Web apps mean for most of us:

Persistent web apps are certainly one of the next big things. If the technology works, the web will be like desktop software. Imagine using gmail like you can use thunderbird or outlook on your desktop. Google is developing something called Google Gears that is similar. Google describes Gears as “enabling offline web apps”.

Adobe has developed a technology called AIR that also promises to provide persistence to web apps. I am not technical enough to describe how all these various technologies differ from each other. I am sure there are important differences between them.

But what’s important here is that the web is going to be an operating system with direct access to your device and you’ll be able to use your web apps even when you aren’t connected to the web. This is going to result in a whole new wave of innovation. And that’s a big deal.

I won’t delve into the technology behind these persistent Web apps because that’s beyond the scope of what we discuss here at Small Business Trends. But some of the implications of persistent Web apps for small businesses and entrepreneurs are:

  • Perhaps the biggest benefit to individual users is that you will be able to use Web applications offline. This is important because in many parts of the U.S. and the world, we’re a long way from being online 100% of the time.
  • Expect lots of innovative startups to jump into developing persistent Web apps. If recent history has been a guide, some of the earliest and most promising startups will be acquired by larger companies.
  • For smaller Webmasters and Website owners, you may be able to update your website or blog offline, and then go online to sync it up. Same goes for managing your online personae at all those social networking sites.

What other implications are there for small businesses and entrepreneurs? Weigh in and share your opinion.


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

9 Reactions
  1. Graham Lutz, The Young Capitalist

    It’s all about increasing the accessibility of information. I think this will lead to a larger portion of education happening online and more and younger entrepreneurs.

  2. Graham Lutz, The Young Capitalist

    Thanks, Teofilo! I appreciate it! I’m striving to create an environment where young entrepreneurs can get what they need to take that next step! let me know if you have any ideas you would like to see covered!


  3. your blog is great with articles and ideas sharing for knowledge .Thanks

  4. Looking at Google Gears, it sounds like one exciting development is the relational database aspect. Small businesses may be able to access more information about their customers this way, depending upon what’s collected, and be able to provide more customization on their websites.

  5. Donald Kemick, Mobile Marketing Strategy Consultant

    Excellent site! I read you blog daily! I really think that businesses will need to take a look at their mobile marketing stratey and implementions in the near future, especially as the cost of cellular broadband goes down. Coupled with the persistent web apps, we can truely be in touch, 24/7.

  6. Donald Kemick, Mobile Marketing Strategy Consultant

    As another quick comment, I do think that this is something we will likely see starting with larger businesses.

  7. This seems like we are going towards desktop applications verse web application where everythign run on web. To me offline web is nothing but moving function back to desktops with web looking interface.

  8. I’ve been looking into using Web apps for people outside the tech industry. So far, I’ve managed to get rid of a few desktop apps in exchange for web apps, but it’s an exercise in patience.

    It’s going to be up to app developers to spend a lot of time educating consumers and modifying their software to suit what consumers need. One tiny mistake, and your average person is going to go charging back to safe old Microsoft.

    I also see Sandeep’s point. Other than cost, what are desktop based web apps going to do for people that normal boxed software won’t?

  9. What this really looks like is “connected apps” – where intelligence is spread among desktop/device and cloud – where this connectivity is intelligent and less visible. From an application development perspective this is desirable since ongoing, incremental development can become more effective…also, through better interfaces, users can have more control over software development assuming the right feedback mechanisms are developed.