Having read David Heinemeier Hansson’s assessment that there’s limited need for offline AJAX apps I think he needs to get back out there and explore the rest of the world. Despite being of Danish origin I can only conclude the infectious Americana has gone to his head.
“The idea of offline web applications is getting an undue amount of attention. Which is bizarre when you look at how availability of connectivity is ever increasing. EVDO cards, city-wide wifis, iPhones, Blackberry’s. There are so many ways to get online these days that the excitement for offline is truly puzzling.”
Now the cool thing about the 37Signals guys is that they’re not San Francisco freaks. They’re dotted all over the rest of America (yes, there is more to USA than San Francisco folks). DHH now lives in Chicago, I believe.
However he wants to take a trip back to our native Europe. Visiting London is still a pain on the wifi front. There simply isn’t much free wifi in London. Most cafe baristas will stare at your blankly if you ask them for their SSID and the lack of residential housing in many of the popular parts of the city also removes the chances of finding a cheeky little unprotected broadband router.
And that’s London.
People do live in such weird places as the remote hills and dales in Wales through to desert islands like my favorite – the island of Langkawi in Malaysia. When you see how beautiful it is (Langkawi, not Wales!) you can’t blame them.
Closer to home I believe only a minority of Americans actually live in the top 10 cities and metropolitan areas of the USA. There’s not much ‘free wifi’ out in Albuquerque, NM (no blue dots).
In many parts of the world, such as Europe, unlimited cellular data tariffs are still not mainstream or affordable. Even in hi-tech parts of the USA such as the Bay Area, you’d be surprised at how few people actually have EVDO for their laptop.
When I visited London a few weeks ago I was surprised at just how much I relied on my always-connected state here in America. Suddenly it wasn’t possible to confirm from the train an event booking that was sent to my GMail account, etc. I had to get used to downloading articles I wanted to view before I set out for the day.
Whether we all want to be connected 100% of the time is another argument – and interesting one in fact. But we do need to see off-line capabilities in cutting edge AJAX options in order to find mainstream adoption outside of our little tech bubbles like the Bay Area, Boston, New York and Chicago.
DHH is a smart man, and I write this post because I think its a great example of how easy it is to loose touch with what its like to be a real user. I see this a lot in the Bay Area. We need to make sure we put measures in place to think from their shoes and not just ours else we risk creating duff products that continue only to self-serve our own little tech niches.