Technology Review magazine has identified 'Offline Web Applications' as one of the Top 10 Emerging Technologies for 2008. Adobe AIR, Google Gears are such platforms that support accessing web applications without the web.
In fact, Goolgle Gears + Google Apps combination has been touted as the Microsoft Office killer.
Certainly, this is the new programming model and it demands new ways of thinking. The programming model is bound to innovate new set of applications that we haven't had access to in the past.
Some of them which I can think of are:
1. BI on SaaS/Analytic applications
2. Offline Employee Portals with Search capabilities
3. Content Management / Web 2.0 apps
The primary motivating factor for such applications would be a hybrid model that leverages both Internet connectivity and Desktop processing power capablities