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Google Inc. is close to launching a cloud-storage service that would rival one of Silicon Valley’s hottest start-ups, cloud-storage provider Dropbox Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.
Like Dropbox, Google’s storage service, called Drive, is a response to the growth of Internet-connected mobile devices like smartphones and tablets and the rise of “cloud computing,” or storing files online so that they can be retrieved from multiple devices, these people said.
This is, of course, hardly surprising. In fact, it is surprising it took Google so long to come up with a service of this kind. After all, Google is effectively providing a ton of cloud storage already through its existing services like Gmail and YouTube. Google knows more about cloud storage than anyone else. It holds more data than anyone else (even though Facebook is closing in). But regardless of that, Dropbox’s position in the multi-platform, multi-device, end-user-oriented, file-based cloud syncing services remains extremely strong. Up until now, none of its competitors managed to seriously threaten Dropbox’s hegemony. Can Google change this?
Cloud storage has been around for many years now and several providers tried to convince users that their cloud is “unique”, better, different. But only Dropbox, so far, managed to combine ease of use, reliability and attractive pricing and gradually gained a critical mass of users. That’s what lies in the heart of its success. Now, Google is surely capable to create an easy to use and reliable service too. In cloud storage, there’s not much UI to talk about (and UI isn’t Google’s strength anyway) so one of the main differentiators can be price. Google, even today, is offering over 7 GB of storage to every Gmail user for free. I bet that the basic free of charge Google Drive package will offer more capacity than the 2 GB Dropbox is offering today. If I were to guess, I’d say it will be 5-10 GB or even more. As opposed to Dropbox, Google uses its own already existing, well proven and fully scalable infrastructure and it should therefore be relatively easy for them to offer more for less.