It appears that Google has had a change of heart, and has finally decided in favor of launching its own cloud storage solution to compete with the likes of Dropbox, Box.net, SkyDrive, and iCloud. The Wall Street Journal believes that Google is very close to launching Google Drive, something that users have been anticipating and demanding ever since Gmail launched with a gigabyte of storage. In fact, Google was almost ready to launch a similar product called GDrive, way back in 2008. However, Sundar Pichai, the current SVP of Chrome and Apps, managed to get the product dumped with a bizarre argument that files are outdated. According to Steven Levy’s “In the Plex”, Pinchai believed that “Files are so 1990”.
“You just want to get information into the cloud. When people use our Google Docs, there are no more files. You just start editing in the cloud, and there’s never a file.”
– Sundar Pinchai
Google’s entry into the cloud-storage arena is long overdue. Both Microsoft and Apple have compelling products in this segment, which are already (or soon will be) tightly integrated with their own ecosystem. Google, on the other hand, has allowed third-parties like Dropbox to take control of the Android ecosystem. What makes the prolonged lack of an online backup solution from Google surprising is the fact that Google is well known for having access to ginormous quantities of cheap storage. In fact, Google already offers plenty of storage to users in the form of Gmail, Google Docs, and Picasa. What it has been lacking so far is an integrated solution to unite its assorted services.
Like its competitors, Google will be opting for a freemium model. The basic storage plan for Google Drive will be free, with additional storage available for purchase. It will be interesting to observe how Google prices its new product. If it retains the current model of charging $5 per year for additional 20 gigabytes, and $20 per year for 80 gigabytes, it could very well demolish its competitors. It is also likely that at some point, Google will bundle Drive with Google Apps for Android, which should give an instant boost to its user base.
Dropbox famously turned down a nine-figure acquisition offer from Apple. Now, with Google, Microsoft, and Apple setting their sights on the cloud storage market, it will have its work cut out. However, if Dropbox manages to retain its focus on innovation and superior customer service, it will prove to be a tough competitor to beat.