Google Drive looks to be coming and soon, if we are to believe TechCrunch.
Their suspicions started with some source code in Chrome that pointed to the existence of a service we haven’t heard anything about since 2008. The thing was, back then it wasn’t really ready for prime time and was thrown on the backburner.
What changed? The market has changed a good deal since Google Drive’s first incarnation back in 2007. The proliferation of smartphones, tablets and other Internet-enabled devices has meant two things: First, more people are able to access the Internet and, second, more users than ever are accessing via more than one device. The latter group is where Google Drive can make a splash. More on that in a minute.
The cynics among us may well mention another factor: the $4 billion valuation that Dropbox received (it might have been $8 billion if the the market hadn’t tanked). That sort of money is liable to have piqued Google’s interest. Dropbox got to where it is not because it has cloud storage, but because it offers pain-free drag-and-drop synchronization. You take a photo on your iPhone, send it to your Dropbox, and it’s instantly accessible from your laptop, desktop, work computer, iPad… a pretty neat trick. A Dropbox clone may well be what Google is aspiring to create, though given the company’s foray into the hardware world, I wouldn’t be surprised if they took things to the next level.
With Dropbox users can selectively sync files, chances are that most will have just as much of their hard-drive space dedicated to Dropbox files as they have in their Dropbox account – files go onto the computer before they go to Dropbox and are then shared across other devices.
The next level, obviously, would be to allow users to bypass their hard drive and save directly to the cloud. Given the limited disk space on most Chrome OS machines, it would seem to be the logical direction for Google to take. However, it would be difficult to implement outside of a Google software environment – so don’t expect too many surprises when Google Drive launches.
As of yet, there’s no word on when Google Drive will be operational. If the TechCrunch report is accurate, we’re likely to see the service launch in the not too distant future – with native apps that will offer drag-and-drop synchronization. Whether Google Drive is simply a Dropbox clone or a Dropbox killer remains to be seen, but what they say about gift horses and mouths could equally be applied to free synchronization services. A few free gigabytes of cloud storage space is a very good thing.