Google on Wednesday announced the availability of Google One as a storage upgrade option for people in the United States.
The option will become available in other countries within the next few weeks.
Users with paid Google Drive storage plans automatically were upgraded to Google One in the past few months, noted Pavni Diwanji, VP of Google One.
Google One plans begin at US$1.99 for 100 GB. For $2.99, users can get 200 GB, and for $9.99, Google One provides 2 TB. Existing 1-TB plans will be upgraded to 2 TB for free. Pricing for plans that provide more than 2 TB is unchanged.
Google Drive offered the first 15 GB for free. An additional 100 GB cost $1.99, and users could get 1 TB for $9.99, 10 TB for $99.99, and additional storage in 10 TB increments at the same price.
Google One works with Drive and Gmail as well as original quality photos and videos in Google Photos.
The original quality stipulation “probably means lower resolution,” said Michael Jude, program manager at Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan.
“A conventional resolution photo is about 3 MB, but the sky’s the limit for high-res photos,” he told the E-Commerce Times. “The same considerations apply to video SD versus HD.”
Users can share their Google One plan with up to five additional family members, and they will get a breakdown of how much storage each family member uses.
However, that may not be much of a bargain, Jude suggested, because the storage will have to be shared. For example, a 100-GB family plan, at about $24 a year, will cost each person in a family of six $4.
That “seems like a deal until you realize that they each aren’t getting 100GB,” Jude pointed out.
“It’s likely not as good a deal as it appears,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, “because we often focus on the users and not the capacity — or how Google will mine the data.”
Google One Features
Google One gives users a breakdown of their storage use. Categories shown in the example on the Google One app page are Google Drive, Gmail, Google Photos, Family and Family Storage.
Members can get in touch with Google Experts 24×7 by tapping their device screen once. They can choose to communicate via chat, phone or email.
Google One offers users extra benefits, beginning with credits on Google Play and deals on hotels found in Google Search. Google Store and Google benefits will be offered in the next few months.
Those member benefits can be accessed from within the app.
The benefits “might be attractive to some users,” Jude said. “Google Play has music, apps and so forth. It’s the Android equivalent of Apple iTunes and the App Store combined.”
The benefits are “about tying people more into the Google ecosystem and giving some reason for app developers to see more spend,” noted Holger Mueller, principal analyst at Constellation Research.
“It’s a good move,” he told the E-Commerce Times.
Google Drive’s Impending Swan Song
It’s possible that Google will push all Google Drive users to Google One at some point.
“That appears to be the goal, though it looks more like a heavily encouraged upgrade along the lines of a freemium model than a forced march,” Enderle told the E-Commerce Times.
“This is the ‘nice’ period,” Constellation’s Mueller suggested. “At some point, Google will set a deadline. It’s not efficient to have two products around.”
Google will want to offer “one product or platform that’s newer and has more synergies with the rest or with other Google products,” he said.
Google “isn’t in this for the money, but for ecosystem buildout, synergies and long-term lockin,” Mueller pointed out.
“The two most common levers for cloud storage have traditionally been cost and quantity,” said Alan Lepofsky, principal analyst at Constellation Research.
“I believe the next battleground needs to be around purpose,” he told the E-Commerce Times.
How people use content is the key, Lepofsky said. “Vendors like Google and Microsoft need to integrate their cloud storage deeper into workflows, starting with the home and then extending into business use cases. As the content becomes more infused into processes, the value of those files increases, and the reliance on the vendor becomes more stable.”
Privacy or the Lack of It
It uses the data collected for several purposes, including serving up personalized content and ads.
Google likely will continue collecting data from content uploaded to its storage because “mining the data is likely the way they’ll make a profit on this,” Enderle said.
“The fundamental controlling principle of everything Google does is related to advertising,” noted Frost’s Jude. “Google will claim that access to customer data helps it defray the cost of the service through targeted advertising.”
What Google One Offers Users
Google One “is a comprehensive, inexpensive data storage service” for consumers, Enderle said, but “I think businesses should avoid it because of privacy concerns.”
The service “gives businesses another, consumer-grade option that isn’t tech-heavy,” Mueller observed. However businesses would still need a separate backup strategy.
It also gives businesses another way to target advertising, Jude pointed out, while consumers would “get access to a lot more storage plus use incentives.”
Google One vs. Competitors
Among competitors, “only Microsoft has a comparable portfolio and mindshare,” Mueller said. “AWS has an offering but not the apps.”
Amazon does offer cloud storage for photos, videos, music, documents and more, however, through Amazon Drive, which lets users access content from nearly any device, and via iOS and Android apps.
IBM and Oracle “offer generic storage and are not competitors, except for offering the option for non-cloud backup for an enterprise,” Mueller noted.
Google One “comes across as more of a consumer-focused, data mining subsidized service,” said Enderle, “and is thus largely unacceptable for most mature and very large businesses.”