Why should Dropbox and SugarSync have all the cloud storage fun? That's what Google seems to want to know.
Google is getting ready to launch a cloud storage service that would go toe-to-toe with Dropbox, a free service that lets you bring your photos, docs and videos anywhere and share them. Essentially, Dropbox eliminates the need to e-mail yourself a file.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Google's Dropbox-like service is called Drive. The Journal cited "people familiar with the matter" saying the reported Google move is a response to the growth of Internet-connected mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, as well as the rise of cloud computing.
Free or Paid Cloud Storage?
Neither Google nor Dropbox could be reached for comment, but Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, said the long-rumored "GDrive" would match Microsoft's SkyDrive. Windows Live SkyDrive offers a free, password-protected hard drive in the cloud.
"This rumor makes sense in the context of Google's online apps and docs and cloud storage strategy," said Sterling. Google has a cadre of cloud services in its cache, from Gmail to Google Docs to Google Apps and beyond.
The Journal reported Drive would come online in the next weeks or months and charge a fee to people who want to store large volumes of files. Last October, Dropbox, which has more than 45 million users, introduced a paid service called Dropbox for Teams. The service lets companies with a distributed workforce, small business with virtual teams, or entrepreneurs serving multiple clients tap into administrative controls, centralized billing, phone support and plenty of storage space for $795 a year for five users.
It's not clear how much Google would charge or what the parameters of its service are. Google would also be competing with Apple's iCloud. Apple launched iCloud, a set of free cloud services that work seamlessly with applications on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, as well as the Mac and PC, to automatically and wirelessly store content in the cloud and then push it to all devices.
It seems more likely that Google may be working to mimic Apple's iCloud with the mobile strategy than Microsoft's SkyDrive, which is essentially an element that complements Hotmail. After three years, Google finally rolled out the Chrome browser for mobile devices. And there are rumors that Google plans to open a rival to Apple's retail stores, though Google denies it.
What Google doesn't deny is a move to collect data about users in trade for gift cards. Google this week announced it is building a panel to learn more about how people use the Internet. Dubbed Screenwise, consumers as young as 13 can add a browser extension that will share with Google the sites they visit and report how participants are using those sites. Google's stated goal is to improve its products and services.
Posted: 2012-02-09 @ 8:12pm PT
Cloud storage is a model of networked online storage where data is stored on virtualized pools of storage which are generally hosted by third parties.