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Is GDrive Ready to Come Out of Its Shell?

Is GDrive Ready to Come Out of Its Shell?

Talk of an upcoming Google cloud storage service revived rumors of GDrive, an alleged Google product that was expected to debut half a decade ago but did not come to fruition. If Google does release an online storage service now, as a recent report asserts it's preparing to do, it will be born into a much different and more competitive world that it would have seen in 2007.

By Richard Adhikari
02/10/12 5:00 AM PT

Google may soon launch a paid cloud storage service called "Drive," five years after it first came up with the idea.

Google Drive will let consumers store documents, photographs and videos on Google's servers for sharing and easy accessibility from any Web-connected device, The Wall Street Journal reported.

It is expected to be free for most consumers and businesses, but Google will charge a fee for those who use a large amount of storage.

If the reports are correct, Google's entering a very crowded market that has players ranging from giants like Amazon and Microsoft to small companies such as Dropbox(http://www.dropbox.com/) and Box, to name some of the better-known players.

Speculation About Google Drive Services

Google will reportedly offer a certain amount of storage for free and implement a tiered fee structure for larger storage requirements, which is standard industry practice.

It might integrate the service with its Android operating system, the way Apple tied its iCloud service to iOS.

Users might be able to share files with others by sending them a link to download a file instead of having to go through a file-sharing service.

"[Google] has the experience and IT infrastructure to support such a service, and specialized solutions like Dropbox have been a particularly bright corner of the commercial cloud market," Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, told TechNewsWorld. "Given Google's assets, they could probably roll out a competitive offering at a very competitive price point in relatively short order."

Google's likely to succeed if it offers a cloud storage service because "it has a massive footprint in the Internet space," opined Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

Google spokesperson Tim Drinan declined our request to comment for this story.

Moving Into the Madding Crowd

Apple, with its proprietary iCloud service, is among the giants in the cloud storage sector.

Amazon offers the Cloud Drive, while Microsoft has Windows Live SkyDrive.

Other players include Barracuda Networks, which charges for its service; and ADrive, which does not.

Further, Google already offers various forms of cloud-based storage. There's Google Docs; Google Cloud Services, a paid service for the enterprise; Google Cloud Storage for developers; and, of course, Picasa Google's photo and video storage and sharing site.

If what they get for free from Google is not enough, consumers can buy additional storage space across Gmail, Google Docs and Picasa Web Albums.

Then there's Google Music, the company's cloud-based music service.

Why Take on a New Fight?

If Google does indeed launch the Drive cloud storage service, it will be "consistent with their overall strategy of providing large scale advertising-based hosting," Enderle told TechNewsWorld.

"To really go after the consumer-friendly Dropbox-like service is something [Google] should have jumped on far sooner," Enderle explained. "If Google wants to be the pre-eminent cloud service provider, they need to be on top of any prominent cloud service, and Dropbox is just that kind of service."

Such a service will also have other benefits for Google.

For one thing, such a service will constitute part of its ongoing battle with Microsoft for supremacy, Enderle suggested. "Those two are really pounding on each other in cloud services and search, because that's Google's turn and Microsoft is trying to hit Google as hard as Google has been trying to hurt it."

Further, the Drive service will help boost Google's revenue.

"Historically, the problem Google has had is that having an advertising-based model as it does means its product becomes a cost center," Enderle pointed out.

"If you take a revenue-based approach, you can monetize your services," Enderle continued. "This changes Google to a product-based company and, by making the products profit centers instead of cost centers, it will let Google do other fun things they need to do like provide service and support."

About five years ago, reports surfaced that Google was planning to launch a service called "GDrive" that would let consumers purchase more storage for its services. It's not clear whether or not that idea was dropped in favor of the existing arrangement, which lets consumers purchase additional storage space across Google's services for a fee.


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