Dropbox shareholders might be quaking in their boots. If not, maybe they should be. No other than the 800 pound gorilla of internet applications and services, Google has its eyes set on snagging up its share of the highly lucrative cloud storage market.
Long dominated by players like Dropbox, Apple’s iCloud, and Amazon Cloud, the cloud storage market is huge and will continue to get even bigger as more and more consumers use storage-hungry portable devices. Indeed, much of the buzz regarding this upcoming Google service is among users of that other Google product, Android. As posted on the Android news source, Talk Android, Google Drive looks compelling because it is free and is very quick to install. Once you install it, you can put your files in Google Drive. You can then access your files via the web, your tablet, your smart phone, your desktop, and via tablet. Just from Talk Android’s description, the new service has the core offerings of Dropbox-all focused on cross device mobility. As with Dropbox, the great thing about this service is that even if one of your devices get damaged, lost, or stolen, your data is safe since it is synched from the cloud.
Google Drive is widely expected to launch sometime next week with an initial 5GB of storage. That’s quite a lot of space to launch with and backed up by no less than Google’s impressive globally distributed hardware array.
Since there are already a lot of players in the cloud file storage space, what exactly is in it for Google? As evidenced by Google’s forays into Google Plus and the ill-fated Google Buzz, the search giant is obviously concerned about retaining its users within its ecosystem. As one can imagine, Google can only view Facebook’s “walled garden” approach to the Internet both as a source of jealousy and concern since Google’s system is more open. Since the Web is quickly evolving from a destination-centered system where users have to go to a specific site to a more disembodied and distributed structure to access files and content thanks to APIs and distributed web services, Google clearly sees that users tend to be more loyal to sites that actually store their contacts and sites. This is one of the key reasons Facebook bought Instagram-user loyalty to the place that stores their photos. There is also the related competitive advantage of the difficulty of transition from one data-storage site to another.
Google Drive has been six years in coming, according to some estimates. Originally known as GDrive, it was first spotted as a component of the Writely online application which Google bought to morph into Google Docs. Ever since then, there have been random sightings of GDrive. More recently both the Wall Street Journal and GigaOm have reported on the impending launch of Google Drive. Let’s see what this baby has to offer. Considering the millions of people already in Google’s ecosystem, Google Drive will definitely be launching with a bang.