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Is Google Gears Dead?

Illustration for article titled Is Google Gears Dead?

It was over two years ago when Google announced Gears, which promised to make Google services—and potentially lots more—available offline. Since then the project has moved at a creep, all but stalling entirely. Gears, it seems, has died.

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Mark Milian and Harry McCracken have been collecting the murder evidence, which has been mounting for months:

• Gears is not supported in Mac versions of Chrome
• Standalone Gears is not supported in Snow Leopard, months after release
• Google's been evasive about Gears support in Chrome OS, even though offline web apps are a vital part of it
• Google hasn't announced a new Gears-compatible product in months

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All this is decidedly circumstantial, but it hints that Google is planning to wait to HTML5, which supports a lot of the same offline features as Gears, before putting all their eggs in one basket. Then, this:

We're continuing to support Gears so that nothing breaks for sites that use it. But we expect developers to use HTML5 for these features moving forward as it's a standards-based approach that will be available across all browsers.

This is directly from Google in response to Milian's post, and stops short of kicking Gears to the curb, but only just. Here's what it really means: Google will quietly move away from Gears, let it live out its life in comfort, and after starting a beautiful family with HTML5, pretend that it never existed. [LAT, Technologizer]

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DISCUSSION

Personally, I admire the fact that Google is not afraid to sunset redundant, unnecessary, or deficient products.

IMO, Google has always been a research-driven company (rather than a profit-driven one, like Microsoft.) They come up with good ideas first, then figure out how to monetize them. I appreciate that approach: I'm relying on Google more and more, primarily because its products, while often not perfect, just "fit" with my needs more. When a product is no longer needed, they kill it, and there's usually a better replacement I can migrate to.

Contrast this to the Microsoft way, which is to take a redundant product, make it free, convince everyone to use it, tweak it so that it's no longer compatible with the standards, then exploit the fact that everyone is stuck with their product - even if the public would rather use something better.