Google Drive means ‘personal cloud’ will soon overshadow the PC
With the launch of Google Drive, the hot cloud storage service unveiled by Google , mainstream tech users will soon find themselves carrying out cloud storage and file synchronisation among mobile, laptop and desktop systems.
And as a way to likely change the best way we use the net, analysts say.
“Personal cloud is much greater than just storage; it’s synchronisation, it’s streaming, it’s sharing files. Those ultimately become more important to the buyer than such things as the private computer,” said Gartner Research Director Michael Gartenberg. “The age of the private cloud becomes much more important than the non-public computer.”
After years of rumours and speculation, Google officially launched its cloud storage and file sharing service, Google Drive, offering users 5GB of free cupboard space. More importantly, Google Drive is tied into all of Google’s other services.
The new service, as an example, will allow users to collaborate on spreadsheets, presentations and video, because the company’s existing Google Docs service is built into Google Drive.
Once you decide to share content with others, you are able to add and respond to comments on anything, along with PDFs, images or video files, and receive notifications when folks touch upon shared items, Google said.
Users can start with the initial 5GB of space. (By comparison, Microsoft offers 7GB of free capacity with its SkyDrive offering, Apple offers 5GB of space, and DropBox offers 2GB.)
For users who need extra space for his or her digital content, Google allows an upgrade to 25GB for $2.49 a month, 100GB for $4.99 a month or 1TB for $49.99 a month. Once you upgrade to a paid account, your Gmail account storage also will expand to 25GB.
“At those prices points, for the price of cup of coffee a month you will get 100GB of online storage and synchronisation from Google and feature it work to your Mac and PC and in your iPhone and your Android device,” Gartenberg said. “It really is where they’re pretty disruptive with regards to price in comparison to competitors.”
Google Drive may be installed on a Mac or PC; users may also download the Drive application to an Android phone or tablet. Google already has an API for developers and said it’s “working hard” on an app for iOS devices.
“And irrespective of platform, blind users can access Drive with a screen reader,” Google said.
Just yesterday, Microsoft announced it had done away with its convoluted Live Mesh system and adopted a client-friendly service – SkyDrive – that’s toward what Dropbox offers. The corporate also announced an app for Windows and for Mac OS X that integrates SkyDrive with the local OS.
Just as with Dropbox, files is also stored within the SkyDrive folder, and they’ll be uploaded to the cloud storage service in addition to synchronised to a user’s other mobile and desktop devices.
While other pundits have said that Google was “out to lunch” when it came to offering a comprehensive cloud storage service, Gartenberg said it was well worth the wait because the company has hit the mark on every important feature.
Google Drive enables ubiquitous search
Frank Gillett, an analyst with Forrester Research, agreed. “What’s very interesting is having any such capability tied to at least one of the biggest email offerings on the earth,” he said. “Microsoft’s SkyDrive have been around for some time and associated with Hotmail, but this more significant than that.”
Unique to Google Drive is its ability to go looking email, access Google Docs, and use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) for scanned documents and image recognition through Google Goggles. The picture recognition also allows users to look photographs to spot geographical locations.
Gillett said he’d want to see tighter integration between Gmail and Google Drive, reminiscent of the power to right click a document and be capable to automatically embed it in an email.
“Here’s pretty cool to have a Google Doc experience and your email inside the same account and in order to do file synchronisation and feature integrated search,” Gillett said. “That’s unique.”
The launch of Google Drive puts the Google in direct competition with Apple and its iCloud offering, which ties a cloud storage and file synchronisation service with its other services, comparable to its iTunes online music offering. The challenge Google has now could be that it must evangelize its service to consumers just as Apple has with iCloud, explaining in common terms the way it works.
“Apple has commercials running now about iCloud, and synchronisation and the way it moves from device to device and screen to screen and the way your content can flow,” Gartenberg said.
Smaller cloud services threatened
While Google Drive competes with Microsoft’s SkyDrive and Apple’s iCloud, the firms which are more in danger are smaller consumer service providers, reminiscent of DropBox, Box.net, SugarSync and YouSendIt. Those sites have appealed more to technology enthusiasts, not average consumers. But if it involves adoption, relationships matter.
Hundreds of millions of customers have already got a relationship with Google through its email, document storage and search services in much an analogous way other users have relationships with Apple and Microsoft.
“They do not have much of a relationship with theses smaller cloud companies,” Gartenberg said. “The challenge for these smaller companies is reaching out to consumers or shifting to somewhat of a further market; the difficulty is that Google also wants the business market, the small business market and ultimately the enterprise IT market.”
Brad Nisbet, an analyst with market research firm IDC, said a business offering is the only place where Google Drive falls somewhat flat. What often happens is that employees begin using a client-class cloud service for storing personal photos, music and documents after which wish to use it of their work place.
IT administrators have struggled in recent months with allowing consumer cloud storage services behind their firewalls since the offerings lack administrative controls, akin to the facility to soundly collaborate through encrypted documents, remotely delete files and control who can access what. In additional recent months, consumer-oriented services akin to SpiderOak and Dropbox with its Dropbox for Teams, have begun adding those capabilities.
Cloud-based backup services comparable to Mozy and Carbonite have also made strides inside the business market.
“From Google’s perspective, what i believe is very important to indicate is they are going to must develop those levels of control, with the intention to be attractive to an IT organisation,” Nisbet said. “i believe that’s what’s becoming more appealing to the IT organisations in all sorts of companies. They would like to keep up a degree of control.”