Google has made its latest move, launching Drive, as it angles to be the one-stop hub for search, Web browsing, social networking, and now storage and content creation. And it has the attention of the competition.
Just Monday, Forrester Research released a report about what will be the explosive relevance of cloud services. Today's announcement underscores that evolution.
“Google Drive is significant because now all Google account holders have one click signup to free file storage, sync and sharing, which has the potential to quickly build a large volume of users," said Frank Gillette, the Forrester analyst who wrote the report. "Integration with Google Docs/Apps and eventually with Gmail will make it more natural and seamless than managing from a separate account....So Google Drive will cause more individuals to begin using personal cloud services and more companies, those that use Google Apps, to use cloud-based file sync and sharing.”
Some already established personal cloud providers have responded to Google's storage salvo by focusing on the growing importance of the burgeoning shift to remote storage.
"It's an insanely exciting time in the cloud storage and collaboration space, and Google's entry underscores the importance of this multi-billion dollar category," Box co-founder and Chief Executive Aaron Levie wrote in an emailed statement. Box offers personal cloud storage for 10 million personal users, providing users with 5 gigabytes of free storage.
"At Box, we're focused solely on the enterprise, supporting over 120,000 businesses, and 82% of the Fortune 500, who desire security, scalability, and cross-platform support," Levie said. "Google will continue to be an important partner for us across Android, Chrome, and its Apps suite, as we build the best platform for managing enterprise information."
Others proactively tried to differentiate consumer-grade and business-ready cloud storage.
"Google Drive is a welcome addition to the cloud storage wars, because as they battle with the likes of Dropbox, Box and iCloud, the consumer will only benefit through increased competition for better, faster and cheaper file backup," said Vineet Jain, chief executive of Egnyte, which offers businesses cloud storage services. “There will be some spill over effect onto the business world through innovations related to ease of use, but ultimately it helps differentiate between consumer and business grade products."
Not everyone is as upbeat about Google's entry, however. Some have sent statements reminding of Google's other focus -- serving up ads.
"Although the power behind Google's cloud storage platform looks promising, it is important to remember that Google is also in the business of collecting personal information and selling it to advertisers," wrote Erik Zamkoff, chief executive of cloud-service provider MiMedia, in a blog post.
It's no secret, however, that Google is taking aim at content-creation applications as well as cloud competitors. In fact, Chuck Dietrich, vice president of Google partner SlideRocket, said it outright. "The real strategic play that Google's doing is to slowly migrate people off Microsoft," to edit without leaving the Google universe."
[Updated, 3:20 p.m. April 24: Meanwhile, cloud-storage competitor DropBox stressed in a statement that it is focused on providing only personal cloud storage services, which it said it does “better than anyone else.”
“Companies of all shapes and sizes have tossed in their hats over the years, but we’ve stayed ahead by building the best possible experience and making a product that millions of people love,” said a DropBox spokesman.
DropBox founder Drew Houston had a more direct, sarcastic response on Twitter: “In other news, @Dropbox is launching a search engine. :)”]
[For the record, 2:14 p.m. April 24: An earlier version of this post attributed a quote to an email from Christine Archer of Lewis PR. The quote actually came from a blog post written by MiMedia Chief Executive Erik Zamkoff.]