Google’s Cloud Drive – Cumulus, Stratus, or Cirrus?

Cloud in the shape of a question markThe cloud storage community is aflutter this week with news that Google is planning to release a service, called “Drive” or “G-Drive”, that would let you store images, videos, music and documents on Google’s servers, making your content accessible from any device. Reports suggest users would receive five or ten gigabytes of storage free, with options to purchase more.

The online storage and backup market was worth $830-million in 2011, according to Gartner Inc., and is expected to grow 47% to $1.2-billion this year. Would Google’s entry into this market cause problems for competitors like Dropbox, Box, and Apple? I think the answer is yes, no, and maybe.

  • Yes, a free Google service aimed at consumers and small groups would be bad news for Dropbox, YouSendIt, and other consumer-oriented cloud storage outfits. A Google cloud drive would be a natural fit for people already using Google Music, Google+, and maybe Google Docs, especially if Google can approximate Dropbox’s ease of use.
  • No, Box (formerly Box.net) probably has little to worry about, as it has been aggressively moving upmarket into the business and enterprise segments, with advanced security and administration features, a robust set of APIs to help developers build cloud-based applications, and a growing professional services team.
  • Maybe Apple should be a little concerned. Its iCloud service tries to play nicely with non-Apple content and devices, but irritates users with a $25 yearly fee for access to music purchased anywhere other than the iTunes store. And as the Android mobile operating system has shown, lots of people will choose a feature-rich open ecosystem over the iOS walled garden.

Oh, and um, by the way, Microsoft has been providing a cloud storage product called SkyDrive since 1997.