March 30, 2012

What Will Drive Mean For The New Google?

Flickr/karindalziel

There's been a lot of excitement in the tech community about the oft-rumored Google Drive. GigaOm has its money set on a release date as early as first week of April. However, these same sources were the ones suggesting the cloud-syncing service to start with 1GB of free storage. The new screenshots entice us with a more promising figure of 5GB.

This is more than double what DropBox currently offers (2GB), but in line with the next biggest player in this market, Box.net. DropBox, however, has promised to gradually increase their free allotment to 5GB, though no one knows how long that will take. If you own an HTC device running Sense 4.0, you are already privy to 25GB free, thanks to a very special HTC-DropBox partnership.

What else do the rumors tell us about Google Drive? Mostly that it will be exactly the same as every other cloud syncing service. You will be able to upload your files to Drive and access them across all your connected PCs, smartphones, and tablets.

That's boring.

Where Drive can really differentiate itself is by tightly integrating with other Google services like GMail, Google+, Android, Google Play, and more. Just imagine pausing Angry Birds Space on your phone and picking it up on your tablet at the same place, or even in your Chrome browser. If you could sync your settings to Drive, you could do that.

There have already been rumors that Drive will not be a separate product but a rebranded Google Docs. You can already store up to 1GB of random (non-document) files on Docs. It would make sense to expand the storage and offer better syncing capabilities within an existing service than create a totally new one. Besides, Google seems to be in a rebranding mood lately. As well as an integrating mood.

Google's rivals are already moving in this direction. Apple is expanding its iCloud service and tightly integrating it across all its devices, like the iPhone, iPad, iMac, and Apple TV. Microsoft Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 will be integrated with SkyDrive, which already offers 25GB of free storage.

Drive may not be fully integrated with other Google services right out of the box. But with the direction the company is moving, I have no doubts that over time, it will become an integral part of the Google ecosystem.