After years of speculation and rumor, today Google announced Google Drive, a new service that allows users to store data on the cloud.
In English, that means a service that allows users to keep documents, photos, videos and other files on Google's servers and access them from many different devices.
With services like Dropbox, Box, and Microsoft's SkyDrive, the field, to say the least, is already crowded. But when Google — a technology behemoth — launches a product of this kind it's worth taking note. The essentials are that the company is offering 5 gigabytes of free storage and offers plans that go up to 1 terabyte of storage for $50 a month.
"'It's less about you storing data, than about creating and collaborating,' said Sundar Pichai, senior vice president for Chrome and Apps at Google, who headed up the release of Drive. 'Data storage happens on the way.'
"That is, it happens if people show up. Google is making pains to get that started, and is thinking of this both as a consumer and a business service. Google will have its competitors and challenges — such as, how well it can explain the offering, and what kind of software applications are written by third-party developers.
The ins-and-outs of the service are beyond the expertise of this blog. But here's a round up of early reaction to the service in the tech press:
-- Walt Mossberg says he likes it:
"It subsumes the editing and file-creation features of Google Docs, and replaces Google Docs (though any documents you have stored there carry over). In my tests—on a Mac, a Lenovo PC, a new iPad and the latest Samsung Android tablet—Google Drive worked quickly and well, and most of its features operated as promised."
-- ReadWriteWeb gives the service a good review:
"But all that said, Google Drive launches with some standout features on day one. It's not enough to cause a tidal wave of users switching over, but it could be over time. The video processing, image recognition and OCR should pique the interest of Evernote users. The Gmail integration could dramatically simplify file sharing. And we'll see what those iOS apps are like when they come out, although Google's track record there is not great."
-- TechCrunch details the long road to Google Drive and hints that it's not very impressed after six years of waiting:
"Today's Google Drive is GDocs+ – it has OCR, it has an API for apps! – but it's no longer tapping into the pent-up, unsatisfied demand for a decent cloud storage and sync service. People who use Google Docs might try it, but if they're already satisfied with the alternatives – the platform-agnostic, popular alternatives – they may just skip it.
"After six years of waiting, though, some of us have to take a quick peek."