Ever since the appearance of a leaked Google press release containing information about Drive, the companys free, cloud-based storage service, the technology world has been waiting for Google to officially announce the platform. In what may be a sign of Drives imminent launch, the company has upgraded the storage capacity for users on its documents platform, Google Docs, to 5GB.
According to a report on the tech blog SlashGear, leaked details from Google's French site said Google would offer up to 16GB of storage and would be integrated with Google Docs, with the ability to share and collaborate on documents. According to the report, 20GB of storage would cost $4 a month.
A Reuters report quoted an unnamed source familiar with the matter who said Google would also offer larger capacities of data storage (up to 100GB) for a monthly fee. The move would bring the search giant into direct competition with startups like Dropbox and Box, which both offer free online data storage, and could prompt social networking behemoth Facebook into a cloud storage acquisition.
"If Facebook was to buy Dropbox, that would be a game-changer," Richard Edwards, principal analyst at research firm Ovum, told the BBC, noting that Google is arriving to the cloud-based storage party rather late. "I would see this as an extension to its Google Docs offering, and it could provide value to its social network Google+, allowing the sharing of files that are too big to email. I will be looking to see how I can synchronize content stored in the cloud to all my devices to access as and when I want.
Dropbox and Box are currently the top providers of Web-based object storage. Dropbox, which reportedly turned down a substantial offer 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.
Others are playing in the free cloud storage space, as well. Synaptop is a computer on the cloud that lets users store and share files, run apps and collaborate in every app with contacts, and offers 5GB of free storage upon signing up. Users get another 2GB free after they refer a friend.
Synaptop also gives users 500MB for each new friend referred after, with up to 32GB maximum. Synaptop also lets users run and open files directly on Synaptop, and interact with others while viewing files together via chat or video. Unlike Dropbox and Box, which have focused on adding business-centric collaboration features to their platforms, Synaptop appears more focused on social media connectivity for users of Google+ and Facebook. The company offers users a single social entry point, where they are able to share and edit files together with Google and Facebook contacts. This week, Synaptop unveiled a tool that allows users to view and annotate PDF documents in real time, as well as write and edit documents in various formats collaboratively using the Write application.