Following nearly six years of speculation, Mountain View, Calif.-based Google Inc. entered the evolving and highly competitive cloud-based storage market earlier this week with the introduction of its file-syncing service, Google Drive.
Google Drive users will initially receive 5 gigabytes of cloud-based storage for free or have the option of paying a monthly fee for additional storage up to a whopping 16 terabytes of space. Akin to the functionality of a hard drive on a traditional computer, the service will enable users to store and access documents, audio files, and video files of 30 differing file types via an Internet connection between a variety of computer and mobile operating system platforms.
In juxtaposition to the current consumer cloud-based storage offerings from startup Dropbox Inc., Apple Inc.’s iCloud, and Microsoft Inc.’s SkyDrive, among others, Google intends to differentiate Google Drive by integrating the service within existing Google applications and allowing files to be searched more easily.
Google stated that it is aiming to build Google Drive “to work seamlessly within your overall Google experience,” according to its official blog posting. The goal of the service will be to become a central hub from which users will remain engaged within the Google application ecosystem for longer periods of creation, collaboration, and sharing time. Presumably, it will ultimately allow Google to further pinpoint its core competency revenue driver—search engine and query-based advertising.
Presently, it appears that the primary target audience for Google Drive is going to be consumers, rather than businesses and larger enterprises. Privacy concerns have already arisen, making it unlikely that companies will want their employees using the service. Specifically, Google Drive’s terms of service state that users “give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations, or other changes we make so that your content works better with our services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display, and distribute such content.”
Moreover, cloud-based storage services such as those from Amazon.com Inc.’s S3, EMC Inc.’s Atmos Online, and Box.com, among others, have had years to develop and cultivate their businesses specifically for the needs of the enterprise market. For Google, the process of tailoring inherently more complex, customized, and secure cloud-based storage options for the corporate market in a similar fashion is simply not seen as a lucrative proposition, compared to optimizing its existing consumer user base at the present time.
As the exponential growth of mobile computing on smartphones and tablets will likely continue for the foreseeable future, so too will the need for more cloud-based storage options. Strategically, therefore, as Google continues to expand its Android mobile operating system, Google Drive could potentially become the latest catalyst for the company’s growth beyond search.
Google Drive can be found at https://drive.google.com and is available for PC and Mac, Android devices, and soon for Apple iOS devices.