Online storage comes in abundance these days, from a raft of different vendors, varying from the ginormous to the otherwise unheard of, yet so far Google is somehow missing out, in spite of offering its own product already.
Google Docs does have the capability already of storing files other than those created within the cloud-based office suite, yet it’s not widely adopted as such by consumers. So naturally, Google wants to get in on the game properly, and considering Google is the most cloud-focussed of the tech behemoths, it’s surprising that it’s taken them so long to make a real go of it.
Not the First Time
The truth is, though, Google has given GDrive ago before, however, internal users readily admitted that the product wasn’t fit for public consumption due to general bugginess, however, that was years ago and a total refresh not only to GDrive, but the majority of Google’s web-based products interface-wise, might spell a brighter future for the service.
What’s it all About?
(Image Credit: TechCrunch)
According to reports, Google Drive will essentially be a rebranding effort on Google Docs, thrusting it into the limelight as online storage, and not solely an office suite. So in that sense, it’s more about creating greater awareness for the service, rather than creating a new product altogether. However clearly it doesn’t stop there, and there are a few more ingredients to be added before we declare it complete.
Firstly, as the title suggests, GDrive will be the closest product available to rival Dropbox, in that there will be dedicated apps for various mobile and desktop platforms (knowing Google, most of them) that will allow real-time synchronization for your files. So, if you want to upload a document, video, image or any other digital format to a secure cloud-based location, you can just drop it in and it’ll be available as soon as your connection allows on all of your compatible devices.
Obviously, the first major impact it could have is the destruction of Dropbox. Now this is just pure speculation on my part, but a service created and promoted by Google, being integrated into its plethora of services already used by millions, is only going to cast Dropbox into the shadows. The problem that the latter faces, is that it’s not really a binding service unless you’ve paid for a larger amount of storage.
Any personal users, of which there are millions, who get by with the complementary 2GB from Dropbox, will simply be able to drag and drop those files into GDrive and do away with it forever, and it’s just as simple for others when the time comes to renew. What Dropbox is essentially relying on is loyalty, laziness or dedication to the minnows from its users. Hardly substantial.
When you compare Google to Apple, particularly in the mobile sector, is the difference in the ecosystem. Apple has created a range of devices that maintain an enormous tractor beam keeping all of its users in place and bringing new ones in. I think because of the lack of a desktop OS for some part, the inferior quality of Android tablets, and the fact that Google readily lavishes iOS with its own software, users have quite easily steered clear of having an all-Android group of devices.
Of course, this is unlikely to change with GDrive, as it will more than probably wind up as an iOS app, and it’ll definitely be available through a web interface if Google sticks to its typical guns, so there’ll be no change on that front. However ignoring the competition, having GDrive accessibility built into the SDK of Android will mean a vastly improved experience on Google’s mobile devices, in theory, and allow the cheaper hardware supporting minimal local storage facilities a feasible chance of survival.
What Google does have on the desktop front, is Chrome OS. And the entirely web-based operating system will reap quite obvious benefits from GDrive integration across the board. Plus, if GDrive does function similarly or identically to Dropbox, then all of those files will be accessible in offline mode too, should you have had a network connection at some point since you uploaded them on the other side.
For businesses, it could prove an invaluable resource for that reason and would make Chrome OS a more feasible proposition for new adoption, however, I’m assuming that the early adopters would have been aware and excited enough by Google Docs functionality that they’ll already be operating a similar system.
Summary and Expectations
I do expect that this is something very tangible and very real in the pipeline for Google this time, and will become a publicly available product at some point. It makes no sense for them not to head down this route given what the competition is doing with SkyDrive and iCloud, however I do believe it hangs on their willingness to deploy local, synchronised apps if it’s going to offer anything over and above what’s already freely available, and does hinge on the amount of storage too.
Back when it was first discussed around 2006/7, GDrive was dubbed as the ‘infinite storage’ option, allowing exactly that – no limits on what can be stored. I don’t know how feasible that is in this day and age with HD video being bandied around like secrets in the school yard, but I don’t think a mere few gigabytes is going to cut it.
Whatever happens, though, with the amount of Google products living in the cloud, it can only provide a greater backdrop and attraction for people to hang up their boots and fly amongst the clouds.