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Is Google Drive Ready to Hit the Road?

Is Google Drive Ready to Hit the Road?

The long-rumored Google Drive, or GDrive, service has once again popped up on radar, this time courtesy of a report claiming the online storage service will be launched as soon as next week. Google's cloud storage network will reportedly give users 5 GB of free storage. It would enter a crowded market, but Google's many resources could help Drive be a contender.

By Rachelle Dragani
04/17/12 10:54 AM PT

Cloud-based storage utility Google Drive is set to debut next week, according to The Next Web.

Rumors regarding a Google online storage space have persisted for years, but it's actual release is now just around the corner, according to information The Next Web said it received from a Google Drive partner.

"Google Drive rumors are not something new, as it keeps coming up very often," Krishnan Subramanian, principal analyst at Rishidot Research, told TechNewsWorld. "This time, some of the screenshots that are out there makes me feel that it is real this time."

The cloud storage system will reportedly be available for free, and Google will give new users 5 GB of free space. Previous rumors held that Google Drive, or GDrive, would provide users with a single gigabyte of space, but the larger offering would put Google Drive more on par with cloud storage competitors. iCloud and Box both offer 5 GB for free, and DropBox starts users off with 2 GB. Google Drive users will be able to purchase additional space, but the leaked material didn't include pricing information.

Google Drive will reportedly work across Windows, Mac and mobile platforms. The service is said to be set to launch during the middle of next week.

Google did not respond to our requests for comment on the story.

Taking On Competition

If the report is accurate, Google will launch a product in an area that's already crowded with fierce competition.

"Internet storage has been around for a while, but DropBox's OS-integrated client and automatic file synchronization really raised the bar [for] online and offline storage solutions," Mike Gualtieri, principal analyst at Forrester Research, told TechNewsWorld. "So now here comes Google in an already crowded and chaotic space."

Despite the competition, though, Google realizes cloud storage is too prominent an area to ignore, said Subramanian.

"It is a clear indication that Google's belief in a browser-based approach to storage is waning because of the success of companies like Dropbox and iCloud in the consumer space," he said. "This could be the reason they are revisiting the Google Drive idea which they shelved earlier."

What Google Must Do

Even though it's entering late in the game, though, the Internet giant could gain clear advantages over DropBox and other companies whose only Web service is file-hosting. Since other competitors also offer users 5 GB of free storage to get started, that may not be Google's biggest selling point. But it can use its Web presence and infrastructure to offer more affordable pricing, said Subramanian.

"The economies of scale they have in their infrastructure gives them enough leeway in undercutting the prices and compete more effectively against the likes of Dropbox and others," said Subramanian.

Google also has a Web presence outside of search with tools like Gmail and Google Docs, which it can use to draw customers.

"Google Drive has to come built-in with Gmail and Google Docs," Larry Carvalho, owner of RobustCloud, told TechNewsWorld. "If it is well-integrated into their email, then this offering will definitely be compelling. For example, if all attachments were stored in Google Drive but kept the actual email box ... lightweight, it may offer some good offline capabilities."

That tie-in to email could come in handy for corporations using the Gmail server and looking to have more storage capabilities, said Gualtieri. Businesses could also be targeted on a different front, according to Subramanian.

"They could tap into the traction they are getting on the Google Apps for business and offer Google Drive with the security enterprises expect from cloud storage -- something Dropbox cannot achieve in the near term," said Subramanian.

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