Google Gears

Browser extension for creating apps offline
Google Cemetery
Software & Hardware
No Market Need


Gears was a browser extension for developers to create apps that could run offline. It worked by storing cache and application resources, such as JavaScript, images, and HTML, on a local server. There was a database that allowed users to store data and access it from within their browser. It also had a worker thread pool, which performed expensive operations in the background and made web apps more responsive.

All this sounds familiar? It may be because that’s how web applications work nowadays.

Google Gears


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Cause of Failure

What happened with Gears can hardly be called a failure in any sense of the word. It’s true that Google announced in 2010 they would no longer spend resources in developing the service and would be focusing on HTML5 standards instead. However, they also ensured most of these standards themselves.

When Gears came out in 2007, it could take almost forever to do something as simple as checking your email. Browsers needed to send multiple requests to the site, and it was a lengthy process. Additionally, W3C was slow to develop better standards and ensure faster web application development.

Google’s solution to that was Gears. Initially, it was assumed that very few users and developers would take advantage of having access to web apps’ content offline. It took the world almost a year to realize Google’s actual goal.

Gears’ features allowed for a near-instant connection to websites through cache and data stored locally. Additionally, browsers had processes running in the background, which sped up the whole process of connecting to the web in the first place.

In the end, Google submitted the technology to W3C, and it was implemented in the new HTML5, which became part of all browsers, including Google’s Chrome.

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