Friday, February 10, 2012

After all these years, Google's cloud storage service nears release

Google is finally ready to unveil its long-rumored, long-awaited, and previously almost launched online storage product. Google Drive, as the Wall Street Journal says it will be called, is a natural extension of Google's Docs service.

According to the WSJ's sources, Drive will allow users to upload documents, images, and videos to Google's servers where they can be accessed from any Web-connected device, as well as easily shared. We'd imagine there will be a Google Drive Android --- and iOS --- app very shortly or even simultaneously with launch.

Drive will fulfill the unfulfilled promise that was GDrive, which nearly launched five years ago, but was instead stillborn. Set to launch in late 2007, it never did, but the multitude of mobile devices and a need to store data online has created room for products like Apple's iCloud and Dropbox, which says that as of October 2011, it had more than 45 million users who saved one billion files every few days.

As you might expect, Google Drive will be added to Google Apps, its suite of online software that the company sells to businesses. In that space, Drive would compete with, which sells cloud storage to businesses.

Although the news is welcome, the date remains vague. The WSJ said the service could launch in weeks --- or as far out as months. There will be a basic free package, but those who wish to store a large amount of data can pay for additional storage (nothing new there, meaning that it's a scenario many such services use).

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Pricing for that extra storage is unknown, but a source familiar with the initiative said that Google aims to price such storage for a smaller fee than Dropbox, which allows people to store as much as 2GB for free, but then charges $10 (50GB) or $20 (100GB) a month for additional storage, and 1TB of team storage for five users at $795 a month.

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