As of June 14, 2010, Apple has filed and won a patent, described as a "Configurable Offline Data Store
" (Patent number 20100257215)
With this move, the maker of the highly popular iPhones, iPods and iPads wants to create new options for users. The patent describes a concept, where user files will be stored and synchronized for offline use using a cloud-based storage infrastructure.
Why is that relevant? To give just one example: We all experience times when mobile devices simply have no connection. Whether in a train or regions with low coverage: The best device becomes useless, when you can not load any content.
"Savvy applications" to manage content
The idea from Apple might be a good workaround: Content might be downloaded while the device has a connection, once the user clicks later, the news, the videos or the music are there - even if there is no mobile connection available.
Another interesting aspect of this could be that networks could be used better, for example by downloading big data in the night time, not during the day. The result could be a better use of bandwidth. If the concept takes off, that is.
Apple, in the patent, decribes a concept of data stored in the cloud, that would be supported by "savvy applications", that would could be configurable as to what content should be downloaded and how often.
Success of Instapaper indicates where things might be heading
An early indicator that users have interest in such applications might be the "Instapaper" App, that is available on the app store. The app allows users to mark certain articles they find on the web for later reading. The content is then stored and send to the users account - thus making available long, interesting texts to be read even if there is no online connection.