Google Drive is coming to challenge incumbents Dropbox and Box, the current leaders in online storage for consumers and businesses.
Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) equivalent of a unicorn is not
looking so mythical anymore, as the search engine is reportedly set to launch
its long-rumored cloud storage service this year.
Google Drive will launch in the coming weeks or months,
according to the The Wall Street Journal
, whose report Feb. 10 rekindled an annual rumor that began
back in 2007 when it was reported current Google CEO Larry Page was shepherding
The Drive, known by the code-names as Gdrive
and Platypus, will let consumers and professional users store
photos, documents and videos on Google's servers.
Users will be able to access
that content from any computer, tablet or smartphone that connects to the Web.
The content will likely be rendered shareable as links, with some natural
integration with the Google+ social network.
According to Steven Levy's book, "In The Plex,"
GDrive was going to launch under Bradley Horowitz, vice president of product
management for Google+ in 2008. However, Sundar Pichai, the senior vice
president of Google Chrome, convinced Page and other executives not to launch
the service because the concept of the file was dated. So Gdrive was shelved.
Startups Dropbox and Box are now
the top providers of Web-based object storage. Dropbox, which reportedly turned
down a lot of money to be acquired by Apple, had more than 45 million members
who saved 1 billion files every few days through October 2011. The company
has raised $250 million at a reported $4 billion valuation.
has turned down buyout offers
, raised $35 million at a $550 million valuation
last August. The company finished 2011
with more than 8 million users, and grabbed $129 million in funding in
2011 to fuel its enterprise expansion.
However, Google is expected to offer Drive free to
consumers and businesses, charging only for large file uploads. Unfortunately
for Dropbox and Box, Google's penetration into the consumer sector with
products such as search, Gmail and YouTube, along with its 4 million businesses
that use Google Apps cloud collaboration, could make it difficult to compete
Moreover, Google's hundreds of thousands of servers
dotting data centers all over the world would provide Google with a scalability
advantage Dropbox and Box might have a hard time matching. Ultimately, Google
Drive could become the dominant cloud storage in the industry.
Dropbox declined to comment, but Box founder and CEO
Aaron Levie waxed enthusiastic about Google Drive, comparing it to the launch
of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iCloud service last year.
"The long-awaited entry of Google Drive will create
new awareness and acceptance of consumer cloud storage solutions, just like
Apple's launch of iCloud put the spotlight on this space last year," Levie
"This broader mainstream awareness is ultimately
good for Box since we're bringing the benefits of the cloud to end-users and IT
departments within enterprises, making it easy to manage critical information
and collaboration across all platforms and devices."
Yet Gartner analyst Gene Ruth said both Dropbox and
Box.net should be concerned by mounting competition, which includes SugarSync,
Live Mesh and others.
Google has every opportunity to provide an
excellent and inexpensive Dropbox-like service but it remains to be seen how broad an audience they will target.
In particular, will the audience include enterprise-scale customers and support
hundreds or thousands of users and thus relieve an IT organization from having
to offer file-sharing and collaborations services? We shall see. I expect
capability at least on par with Google Apps and expect some actions to mitigate
the effects of such an offering on Google's partners.
We shall certainly see, when and if Google Drive comes to