Yahoo BrowserPlus Shapes Up as Answer to Google Gears

BrowserPlus could be Yahoo's answer to Google's Gears, which offers offline access for users traveling or plagued by poor Internet connections.

While the financial experts wait on tenterhooks to learn how the Yahoo-Microsoft bid will shake out and how the Internet company will fare in its quarterly earnings announcement April 22, Yahoo's programmers continue to crank out new software.

BrowserPlus is the latest tool to slip into beta from the company's secretive Brickhouse incubator unit, according to Googler Dion Almaer's Ajaxian.

Very few details are known, but Skylar Woodward, an engineer at Yahoo's Brickhouse incubator unit in San Francisco, wrote on his blog that BrowserPlus is a software distribution framework that allows developers of desktop or smart phones to port the browser programming environment, such as DHTML or JavaScript, to any component, such as VOIP (Voice over IP), image manipulation or data caching.

Is BrowserPlus Yahoo's answer to Google Gears? It certainly seems that way.

In the FAQ, Yahoo says, "BrowserPlus makes it easy to install and use Web plug-ins for a richer experience on the Internet."

Meanwhile, Google defines Gears as "an open-source project that enables more powerful Web applications, by adding new features to your Web browser." Programmers and end users have come to rely on Gears to make Google applications work offline.

In definition, BrowserPlus and Gear seem a lot alike, but Almaer is cheering Yahoo on in a way similar to what Googlers did when Yahoo joined OpenSocial in launching that group's foundation.

"I consider Yahoo a proponent of the Open Web, and would love to see us work together in a way that pushes the browser platform forward from the point of view of Web developers (as compared to browser vendors)," Almaer wrote.

Woodward's development team was unavailable to discuss the nascent tool on April 21, but eWEEK expects a briefing next week. But, like they say about new viral technologies released on the Web: Assume chaos.

The developments come as Yahoo prepares to announce first-quarter earnings April 22 after the market closes amid an increasingly hostile-looking acquisition offer from Microsoft.

Analysts expect consensus estimates of $1.33 billion in revenues and earnings per share of 9 cents, as well as some commentary regarding Microsoft's $31-per-share offer for Yahoo, an offer currently worth about $43 billion based on a share price of $29.99.