To put the entire Internet on a storage device would take an estimated 1 million gigabytes, but Webaroo, based in Bellevue, Wash., has created an algorithm to select and store only the most relevant Web pages. Users can download their favorite Web sites to a personal library that is available offline, as well as download editor-compiled "Web Packs," which collect Web content on a particular subject and store it as a cached collection of links.
Updates when connected to Net
Web Packs are available on topics such as sports and news. The packs are updated when users connect their mobile devices to the Internet. Web Packs are also available for popular city destinations. Because Webaroo can be used on a plane or a taxi, a user can search for the best pizza in Chicago or theater listings in Toronto. Later this month, Webaroo plans to unveil a Wikipedia (a free open-content, community-built encyclopedia) Web Pack that will make more than 1 million entries available via mobile device.
The most likely audience for this technology will be business travelers who want to search while they're on the go. Ultimately the service would be useful for anyone who wants to access content when out of range of an Internet service provider. While WiFi has become more widely available, it is by no means ubiquitous. But as wireless and cellular networks spread, there may be less demand for an offline service.
Webaroo has an advertiser-supported business model. Because Webaroo allows users to search in locations beyond the confines of network coverage, it provides an opportunity for advertisers to reach consumers offline. At present, Webaroo provides a sponsorship program wherein an advertiser can sponsor existing content packs or create custom-branded or co-branded content packs. Later this year, the company plans to offer advertiser access to keyword-search-result buying.
Webaroo also has a deal with Acer in which the manufacturer's PCs will come bundled with the Webaroo system and a 40 gigabyte "snapshot" of the Web.