How dependent are you on Internet access?
I think the situation is that the lucky ones constitute enough of a market that 37signals can be a viable company without having to worry about building applications that will run offline, something that would dramatically increase application complexity and cost. 37signals also knows that the connectivity situation will continue to improve. If it were a public company the shareholders might well have demanded that it make more money by building products for the markets it’s not currently addressing, but it’s not a public company. It can stick to what it does well, knowing that the future is on its side. For other software companies, building offline Web applications may well make sense.
If you’re one of those lucky ones, and if you’re reading this blog you probably are, I recommend that you stay that way: before you become dependent on any online-only applications, have some form of backup Internet access in place. In my case, for instance, if my DSL connection at home ever failed for any length of time I could use dialup instead (my Sympatico High Speed subscription includes dialup, with the first 10 hours/month free and additional hours cheap), and if the entire phone line ever failed I could go to a local Internet café. For businesses whose staff need to stay in one place, one option now available in many Canadian cities is wireless Internet service that uses pre-WiMax technology. For only $25/month, plus $100 to buy the modem, you can have a backup 128 kb/s Internet connection (or faster if you pay more monthly, up to 3 Mb/s for $60/month) that will still work even if neither phone line nor cable works. For most businesses that’s affordable insurance. Preferably, get your backup connection from a different carrier than your usual connection.