Google and Offline map data

Had a chuckle today as I was searching for navigation options for my Galaxy S Android phone. While searching I cam across this thread dedicated to the availability of offline maps for the google navigation software - http://www.google.co.za/support/forum/p/Google+Mobile/thread?tid=3634773013544912&hl=en

Dave874 asked:

Are there any plans to make Android Google Maps/Navigation available offline, when internet connection is not available?

I love Android Google Maps, but I'm frustrated that it always requires an internet connection on my phone. I travel through rural areas quite often where no cell/internet service is available. Its in areas like these that I rely on maps and navigation the most. But I have to rely on paper maps or an expensive GPS to help get me to where I need to go because my Android phone can't get the job done in these areas.
Are there any plans to allow Android users to download offline maps to their phone and use them for navigation when no cell/internet service is available? A stripped-down version (e.g., enter address manually, no POI searches) would be better than nothing. Please tell us this feature is in the works? This is the only feature that is preventing me from using my Android phone full-time for navigation

to which Thom (Google Employee) responded a couple of months later after a multitude of responses:

Hi all,

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. The reason I haven't replied directly to this thread is that I and my forum colleagues don't comment on the future availability or functionality for any Google products, including Navigation. That said, the development team and I are very, very aware of the desire to have an "offline" mode for Google Maps Navigation. We're currently exploring options about how to provide a better experience when in limited or no data coverage areas, so please look for changes to Navigation in the future. Thanks for understanding.

Best,

Tom

On the last page Downmarket responded with:

This is amazing. I just google-translated Thom's reply into japanese and back into english again. Here's what came out:
Hello valued person,
you may not be aware, but at Google, people are forced to vacuum clean the server complex if they give away company secrets, so if you've stumbled upon the japanese translation trick, please don't post it, I have a dust allergy.
We are VERY aware (as in: we read your g-mail) that people are terrified of using existing technology ("asking for directions","reading road signs") or cannot afford data prices in rural areas. We have our top brainiacs working around the clock to fix the problem of pre-caching gigabytes of location-based advertisements, but as you can (or probably can't) imagine, this is not so easy. Also, the advertisement-based routing algorithm doesn't quite work perfectly yet (our goal is to make you zig-zag past every existing revenue generator), so our energy is also focussed on this at the moment..
Let me cut to the point. Expect a beta release of offline functionality in Q4. But don't expect a "free" experience. You know why, and we know you know why.
Cheers
Tom