When I read about Google Gears (Beta) this morning, it really didn’t click with me until I read LifeHacker’s article explaining how to use it to read you Google Reader RSS feeds off-line. LifeHacker also mentions off line support is possibly in the works for GMail and Google Docs as well.
If Google wants to compete with Microsoft, I would say this is a much needed step. The key integration with Gmail and Google Docs will, of course, be synchronization with online content. Being able to allow users to work on documents and compose email, then upload/send those file when online access is available again is a pretty outstanding feature, if it’s done seamlessly. In order for users to select Google over Microsoft (or even Open Office) there needs to be a compelling reason, and online / off-line access could easily be the best one yet.