Google finally takes plunge into online storage

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) finally announced the long-awaited Google Drive today--years after it was first rumored with names like "G Drive." 

First the details: You get 5GB of free storage. Like Dropbox, it integrates as a folder on your system in Windows Explorer or Mac Finder. You can buy up to 16TB of additional storage, according to Danny Sullivan on Search Engine Land. Upgrades start at 25GB for $2.49/month, 100GB for $4.99/month or even 1TB for $49.99/month. 

What's more, the technology will eventually be fully integrated into the Google ecosystem so you can share content from the Drive to Google+ or Gmail. When I installed Google Drive on my computer, it synced automatically with Google Docs, giving me easy access to links to all of my documents from my computer.

It's also worth noting that once you sign up for Drive, you will notice that Docs is not longer listed in your Google tool bar. It has been replaced by Drive. So Google Docs in a sense is being replaced by Drive or at least subsumed by it. (Hat tip to Steven Vaughan-Nichols for noticing this). 

There's also an Android app available immediately. Google indicated it's working on one for iOS, as well.

Ahead of the news yesterday, a couple of competitors ratcheted up their features. Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Sky Drive raised its free storage from 5GB to 7GB while Dropbox introduced simplified sharing with links to data in addition to shared folders. This will make sending links easier for a non-technical user like your grandmother.

Does this mean that other storage vendors should be on alert now that Google is finally in the game? Laurence Hart, chief information officer at AIIM, has been involved in the content management and collaboration business for a long time and thinks that perhaps Dropbox should be nervous, but for now Box should be safe.

"Dropbox should be afraid more than Box. This, and SkyDrive, are direct attacks at Dropbox in functionality. Box has been targeting enterprises. While Box is still building out their Enterprise features, they are significantly ahead of those three. Box should be okay if they can continue to maintain their feature lead over Google and Dropbox," Hart said.

It seems Google has had a difficult time capturing enterprise buyers on a large scale. This product certainly has enterprise-class scope and scale--being able to store up to 16TB should please a lot of businesses. The integration across services also simplifies matters for users, who in the age of consumerization may be inclined to use it.

Even though Google is the 10,000 pound gorilla in this game doesn't mean it's automatically going take over or bypass existing services. In fact, it could be a case of expanding the pie instead of cutting it up into smaller pieces, as more people get comfortable using online storage options.

I know personally I use several online storage services, so if you choose one, it's not necessarily at the expense of all the others.

For more information:
- see the official blog post announcing Google Drive

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