"The problem with the mobile Web experience has been that the networks being used are not very fast or very cheap to use," said Beerud Sheth, cofounder of Webaroo. "We allow mobile device users to download and carry the content with them, with any changes updated each time the application is used."
While the Internet is phenomenal as a resource for looking up information, those wanting to search it must, of course, be connected -- but not if startup Webaroo has a say in the matter.
Satisfying the need for instant Internet gratification while on the road is the objective of Webaroo, a company that is now offering access to huge chunks of the Internet by compressing massive amounts of Web information into small sizes for viewing on laptops and PDAs -- all without the need for an Internet connection.
Webaroo's technology essentially scours the Internet for great Web pages and stores them in packages that can be saved for offline searches. These collections, called "Web Packs," are tailored to a variety of interests and are automatically updated by the company's servers .
Different Web Packs are updated at different frequencies, depending on the nature of the content. The software, available as a free download, already has caught the eye of computer manufacturer Acer, which will integrate Webaroo's technology in its laptop PCs.
Taking It on the Road
"The problem with the mobile Web experience has been that the networks being used are not very fast or very cheap," said Beerud Sheth, cofounder of Webaroo. "We allow mobile device users to download and carry the content with them, with any changes updated each time the application is used."
Webaroo users can download a single site or create specific Web Packs that are based on search keywords. The company provides those results in a single, small file. The software itself requires only about 10 MB of hard drive space, while each Web Pack is in the 200- to 250-MB range.
At this point, said Sheth, users cannot remotely access dynamic sites, such as online-shopping outlets or password-protected pages. But salespeople on the road, for example, could download a customer's Web site, or travelers could quickly search for and download lots of information about a foreign city.
Laptop users could certainly use this kind of simple, untethered access to the Web, said Internet expert Sue Feldman, an analyst at IDC who noted that the ability to find pages that feature mostly text could be stored easily on mobile devices.
"If they can sift through and pull those sites that contain the most relevant content, it could prove quite popular," she said.
For business users in particular, the ability to access information stored on a corporate network would be very attractive, said Feldman.
Doing customized Web crawls for workers on the road, such as giving them remote access to a particular news site, is a great idea, she noted.