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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Google Drive due as soon as April


by Rachel King

Considering how strong a leader Google is, when it comes to cloud-based productivity solutions (Google Apps), it's a little surprising that the company hasn't introduced a bona fide cloud storage service yet.

Google is expected to officially announce and launch an online storage service dubbed Google Drive, or GDrive, as soon as the first week of April, according to GigaOm and its sources.

(Credit: Google)

Coincidentally, registration for Google I/O, Google's annual conference for developers in San Francisco, kicked off this morning. It would make sense, if Google waited until June to officially introduce Google Drive for added publicity and details, if it is going to be as big a venture as we might expect.

If the reports are true, Google is expected to kick off GDrive by offering 1GB of storage space for free, with fees for extra storage space thereafter.

By comparison, Dropbox starts off with 2GB for free, and Box offers 5GB for free -- or as much as 50GB, if you qualify for one of its mobile-device promotions.

Although we don't know all of the details yet, and it might not necessarily be a direct competitor, Apple's iCloud also offers iOS and Mac users at least 5GB for free too.

However, if GDrive arrives in beta mode (like most other Google products do, when they first launch), the 1GB offer might just be a starting point, and we could see a gradual increase in the free-space allotments.

Although there have been rumors about a Google Drive for a few years, including recent murmurs earlier this year adding to the anticipation, one has to ask why Google has taken so long with this, and is it too late? Dropbox has already been a runaway success in this market, with a very simple but popular product.

That also brings us to
Google Play, which could have major tie-ins to Google Drive. The digital-entertainment platform has been getting a significant push lately, and with all of those digital movies and more content available, it could make sense to store them somewhere like Google Drive.Google fumbled when it announced Google Music without any support from major labelslast spring, but the digital-music servicerebounded later in the year, when it fixed that problem.

Nevertheless, Google does its brand name on its side. Think about how many millions of users are already on Google Apps, and how many of them would probably prefer to have all of their e-mail, electronic documents, and cloud storage under one account, rather than having multiple accounts with other services? When you throw in access to cloud storage on Androidsmartphones and tablets, it simplifies things for users even further.

It will be a while before we see how much of a threat Google Drive could be to the likes of Dropbox and Box, at least when it comes to personal accounts.

But if Google can manage to introduce a more enticing service from the get-go (unlike Google Music) and maintain hype for a longer period of time (unlike Google+), then GDrive has the most potential for any Google product than we've seen in a while.