Yesterday Google publicly launched Google Drive with an announcement on its Official Blog. Drive is a new service where you can store your files online in the cloud. Drive enters the market for cloud storage where competing options already exist — notably, DropboxSugarSync, Apple iCloud, Microsoft Skydrive, and Amazon Cloud Drive.

Google Drive offers more features than simply uploading and storing files to a directory in the cloud. You can store you stuff – video files, photos, Google Docs, PDFs, etc. You can also create, view, convert formats, make comments, index and search, collaborate on projects, and manage sharing with friends and family. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology allows word search of scanned documents. Accessibility options for sight-impaired Drive users enable the use of a screen reader. Google calls Drive a platform, making possible 3rd-party add-on apps for purposes such as faxing files or editing videos.

With feet firmly on the ground, access your Drive from anywhere – over the web, from your home or office, or using mobile devices. From Google Play, install Drive on your Mac or PC, or download the Drive app to your Android phone or tablet. (Not ready yet: Drive app for iOS devices.)

Current Google users will appreciate the Drive upgrade from the old Google Docs portal. Google users’ existing familiarity with Docs, and Drive’s integration with other Google Account services, make Drive a seamless transition and no-brainer choice for many Google users. The rollout of Drive for existing Gmail users and enterprise Google Apps customers will be automatic; but if you don’t have it enabled yet, you can request it.

Which way to the cloud? What does it cost? Which community cloud are you? 

Google Drive is free for the first 5GB of storage. Upgrade to 25GB for $2.49/month, 100GB for $4.99/month or even 1TB for $49.99/month. When you upgrade to a paid account, your Gmail account storage will also expand to 25GB.

Dropbox is free for the first 2GB of storage. (If you refer new customers, you can get 500MB per each, up to 18GB free.) Or select a plan: 50GB for $9.99/month (or $99.99/year); 100GB for $19.99/month ($199.99/year); plus you get 1GB free storage per referral for up to 32 new customers. Team plans and terabyte storage also available. (Given the comparison to Google, can we expect a price drop? Else you need to refer more customers.)

SugarSync is free for the first 5GB of storage. Or select a plan: 30GB for $4.99/month (or $49.99/year), 60GB for $9.99/month ($99.99/year) or 100GB for $14.99/month ($149.99/year). (Given the comparison to Google, can we expect a price drop?)

Apple iCloud is free for the first 5GB of storage, for the Mac OS X Lion and every new iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch with iOS 5. Upgrade for an additional 10GB for $20/year, 20GB for $40/year, or 50GB for $100/year. iCloud also integrates seamlessly across the Apple platform. Remember the famous ads, “Are you PC or Mac?” For mobility and the cloud market, the new question is “Are you a Mac or Googler?”

Microsoft updated Skydrive this week too. You get 7 GB of free storage. Additional storage options are available with a Windows Live ID at $10, $25, or $50/year for 20GB, 50GB, or 100GB. Skydrive syncs files with Windows, Windows Phone, Mac OSX, and Apple iOS clients. (Note no Android app.) Developing target apps for OSX and iOS is now mandatory to stay competitive in the consumer market.

Last but not least, the Amazon Cloud is free for the first 5GB of storage, plus 1000 songs. Additional plans are available – including unlimited MP3 music storage for songs purchased at Amazon – per year for 20GB @ $20, 50GB @ $50, 100GB @ $100, 200GB @ $200, 500GB @ $500, or 1TB @ $1000. (Did you notice a pattern?)

A walk down Memory Lane

Gmail began in 2004, when the way to get an account was by invitation only. Back in the day, there was an open source hack/kluge, called “G-drive”. This version installed a virtual drive in your [Windows] file directory. You could drag and drop files onto G-drive, which sent email to your Gmail with the G-drive files as attachments. No longer do people need to email files to themselves. At last, in 2012, Google Drive is here.

The tale of the toothbrush and the cloud

On April 5, Larry Page published his letter to investors, “2012 Update from the CEO.” In it he reiterates and updates the Google vision. He describes the “toothbrush test” for Google products. Do we use Google products twice a day? Page’s metaphor intends to go beyond simply choosing Google as a favored brand to use twice a day. Page is describing how we create new habits and change our culture where no need previously existed. On February 27, National Public Radio aired a feature story [listen here] about the new book, “The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in Life and Business”, by Charles Duhigg. The story goes, in early 1900s America, people didn’t brush their teeth daily until a Pepsodent toothpaste ad campaign compelled them to want to have the appeal of clean teeth. Upon enjoying Pepsodent toothpaste, and flattered by the Pepsodent advertising, the American public changed their habits and began to brush their teeth.

Internet access is all you need to use a cloud service provider, such as Google. You should avoid email service that is dependent on your local electric, cable-TV, phone or internet service provider, because what happens to your account if move or change ISPs? Or hardware dependent, for that matter. Back to 2005, watching the destruction in New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina, I decided to have a cloud strategy for me and my family. I changed my habits to safeguard my data. You might move to the cloud intentionally, or it might creep up on you little-by-little for convenience. Cloud storage will help you organize the clutter or confusion of your data, and multiple versions of it, in too many places. Maybe a cloud drive will replace your thumb drive. Maybe even make obsolete the desktop computer. Your habits will evolve. Resistance is futile.

About The Author

Sandra Giger is a Blast correspondent

One Response

  1. Mike

    Cloud storage is just like an external drive, not really that important. Cloud IT Service is a lot more interesting. DriveHQ is the first cloud IT solution provider offering cloud based File Server, FTP Server, Email Server, Web Server, Online Backup, and file collaboration services. Cloud IT service is particularly useful for SMBs – it can replace their in-house IT systems for a fraction of the cost.


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