After years of speculation, internet search giant Google has announced the launch of Google Drive. The cloud storage service will be rolled out globally in the next few weeks.
The launch is special for India, as Google’s engineering teams in Bangalore and Hyderabad conceptualised and built the centralised management tools, security features, ability to search within a document and billing systems for Google Drive.
For those already using Google Docs, using Drive will be easier. Google Docs is built into Google Drive. Users can share content with others, and add and reply to comments on PDFs, images, video files, etc. They can receive notifications when others comment on the items shared.
The Google search option, too, is built in. It will allow search by keyword and filter by file type, owner and more. Drive can recognise text in scanned documents using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. “We also use image recognition so that if you drag and drop photos from your Grand Canyon trip into Drive, you can later search [for grand canyon] and photos of its gorges should pop up. This technology is still in its early stages, and we expect it to get better over time,” said Sunder Pichai, SVP, Chrome and Apps, in his blog.
A free account of Google Drive will give users five-GB space. For more space, users would have to pay. One can upgrade to 25 GB for $2.49/month, 100 GB for $4.99/month or even one TB for $49.99/month. Those who upgrade to a paid account, their Gmail account storage will expand to 25 GB.
This time, Google has been a tad late in coming out with its offering. Apple’s iCloud, Dropbox and Microsoft’s Skydrive have been around for some time.
Mark Little, principal analyst at Ovum, said with Drive, Google recognised the potential of shared cloud storage as a consumer hub or open platform. That, he said, could be central to developing third-party apps such as video editing, sending faxes and creating websites, with potential for a far greater range of applications from its busy community of third-party developers.
“For Google, the platform potential of Drive is of strategic importance, leveraging its developer strengths and competitive pricing (50 per cent cheaper than Apple’s iCloud in some cases) to drive penetration of its cloud offering via both consumer and enterprise channels. This is a major challenge to Apple’s iCloud and others whose propositions are selling cloud storage as a useful ancillary to using their applications,” said Little.