A new Google online storage service will launch next week, according to a variety of unconfirmed reports on the Web. The service is expected to offer 5 GB of free storage, and possibly will emerge as a cloud storage platform rather than a simple online locker.
Reportedly, Mac and Windows users will see a Google Drive, or GDrive, icon on their desktops, and will be able to use the Google service as they now use such online services as Dropbox. Files will also be available through a Web browser.
Some of the leaks include screenshots of what appear to be Google-generated steps for using the service. There's also a leaked screenshot that purports to come from Lucidchart, a maker of online diagramming tools. The Lucidchart screenshot is headlined Google Drive Integration.
It appears to allow the user to automatically sync documents created in Lucidchart with the Google Drive account, which would then make them file-synced with other devices that the user owns, such that updates in a file will automatically be updated on the same file on other devices. Lucidchart's CEO is a former Google executive.
Many observers expect the Google Drive announcement to be accompanied by a declaration of partnerships by companies that have integrated their wares into the Google Drive environment. This suggests that GDrive will be positioned more as a cloud storage platform than a simple file storage service.
There's also an expectation that the GDrive app will offer the ability to edit documents in the cloud service. In one of the released screens that appears to be from Google, the software giant notes that "editing documents in the Google Drive Android app requires ongoing syncs to update your documents, which can increase your bandwidth usage."
Integration with Google Docs?
The screenshot advises the user to "keep this in mind if you have a limited data plan with your mobile provider." This suggests there might be an integration between at least some of Google Docs' functionalities and this cloud service.
There have also been reports based on downloads of a Google Drive app for OS X, which is operational but not yet able to connect to a live service. Login is accomplished through Gmail credentials.
Dropbox, which was recently valued at $4 billion, offers 2 GB of free storage, with upgrades available for monthly fees. There's no word yet on what Google pricing tiers might be.
Similar online storage models have emerged from three other large companies. Apple's iCloud, Amazon's Cloud Drive, and Microsoft 's SkyDrive are also competing in this space.
Box.net, an independent storage service that currently offers 5 GB free, has begun targeting business markets with its OneCloud service. OneCloud offers applications targeted at enterprises, designed to allow content creating and sharing through mobile devices.
There is also jockeying taking place among device manufacturers to offer online storage service options as an added-value, such as HTC, Samsung and Asus for owners of some of their products.