Google is what we’d like to call a “Launch Machine”. They’ve singlehandedly attempted to compete in just about everything that doesn’t have to do with search, and many of these projects have turned out to be either great success stories like Android, or terrible flops like Google Buzz. It’s as if no idea is small enough to not be implemented, and no way of doing it is bad enough to not be considered a way to start, even if it’s a beta for more than a year.
Things start to get weird when we begin to consider their attempt at cloud storage. It’s not like Google to be late to any party, but the Wall Street Journal has rumored their Google Drive for the past six years, only to finally leave the garage today in a very shy way. It includes the expected 5GB of free Drive storage, 1GB of Picasa, 10GB of Gmail, deep integration with Google Docs, a web based file viewer that even supports Photoshop files, PC & Mac clients, and even enhanced search capabilities. Extra storage starts at 25GB for $2.49/month which also takes Picasa and Gmail to another level.
Now, with the tight integration that Dropbox already provides to almost every platform out there, many have debated as to why the Google Drive would be any better, and here are our thoughts as to why:
1. More Storage, Ease of Use
Just by providing a similar version of Dropbox with more storage, there’s enough to compete. Surely the landscape is filled with options like Box.net and Sugarsync to bring you other cloud storage options that even provide more space than Dropbox, but where they don’t excel is in handling the word “ease”. Uploading your content through your Android device is almost as easy on any platform that you choose, but being able to manipulate these files with the ease of effortless sync later on your computer is where Dropbox excels with their Windows and Mac folder clients. That’s probably the only reason why even the most demanding users decide to put-up with less storage with Dropbox.
When it comes to ease, Google has already proven that they can build powerful desktop clients of whatever service they provide, like for example Google Music’s way of pulling your media to the cloud through a very simple client. Google’s launch of Drive includes both Mac and PC clients that will allow for simple file sharing, dragging and dropping. Snap an extra 3GB of storage to the mix (when compared to Dropbox) and you’ve already dominated everything that Dropbox has, except their customer base.
The great news is that Google also decided to support other platforms. There are tons of customers out there that carry their blazing Galaxy Nexus along with an iPad, but people care less about iCloud and stick to Dropbox simply because they can’t access it on their Android smartphone. With Google’s announcement of an iOS client for Drive in the next coming weeks, there’s one less dilemma to worry about if both ease and extra storage are already provided. Let’s just hope they go beyond a web-based viewer on iOS with this one though.
2. Tight Integration
Here’s a tough one. Android is so open that not even Google succeeds in their territory. With Amazon beating Google by selling more apps on a separate Apps Store, you’d wonder how making any integration better than Dropbox will also mean beating them in being the Cloud Storage King. The answer to that lies in Google’s “Next Evolution” of Google Docs, as they’re calling it with Drive.
Collaboration on Google Docs already exists, and it works good enough to be called “instantaneous collaboration” between colleagues on one same document. We’re still trying to figure out how Google plans to allow you to sync these documents with your Mac or PC client and use them on anything other than the web, but the sort of Next Evolution seems to fall there. Collaboration will now also allow you to comment on PDF files and images, which is another great tool for today’s business world.
3. Focus on Search
Is there really any other way for a search company to excel if not through what they do best? Google plans to include enhanced support for OCR and even image recognition to whatever you throw at your new Drive. Enhancing the ease at which you’ll be able to find whatever you store on your Drive is probably one of the best selling points for any service that Google could ever provide. Hopefully this enhanced service will work on clients as well as the browser, but time and a release will tell.
Giving away storage for free is not enough. People want ease of use, people want smart and people want instantaneous. Google’s Drive seems to tackle everything, so now the only thing left to see is if their attempt at making it a cross platform service does deliver.
Then there comes the challenge that creating another service that competes is simply not enough. Google+ may have better features than Facebook, but people were already happening enough with it to not jump ship. It may be the same case with Dropbox, but that’ll only happen if they are quick enough to beat Google at their own game.
Your move, Dropbox.