News today (admittedly for the umpteenth time in the last few years) that Google looks likely to finally roll out its cloud storage product, G Drive. According to the WSJ;

Drive allows people to store photos, documents and videos on Google’s servers so that they could be accessible from any Web-connected device and allows them to easily share the files with others, these people said. If a person wants to email a video shot from a smartphone, for instance, he can upload it to the Web through the Drive mobile app and email people a link to the video rather than a bulky file.

WSJ’s Drew Dowell has details of Google’s planned cloud storage service, intended to compete with Dropbox. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Google service, which is expected to launch in the coming weeks or months, will be free for most consumers and businesses. Google will charge a fee to those who want to store a large amount of files, the people familiar with the matter said.

After the announcement, I tweeted a simple enough question, asking the community if this was an indication that DropBox (and other similar filesharing services) will be disrupted by Google. The tweet garnered a bunch of responses, some of which I include below;

Would have to offer more storage for less money and be easier to use. Not an easy task.

I think you over estimate Google’s power.

Depends on Googles policies – if they read/server ads against your stored data may not go over well

i will take the bet. dropbox is going to fuck up other people’s shit, not the other way around.

Dropbox integration ease and ecosystem play is REALLY powerful..

Since so much heat was generated, I though I’d spell out my thoughts, in particular as they relate to DropBox. I’ve posted before about what I see as DropBox’s corporate immaturity, in the face of a real competitor, and one that has a massive existing userbase through its own Application suite, DropBox will have to be smart to maintain momentum.

Some respondents likened GDrive to Google+, the over-hyped and seriously on-the-backfoot social network that Google recently introduced. One commenter took the perspective that since DropBox is primarily used for sharing of files and folders, that the Google+ analogy is the best one to use to predict success. I don’t really buy that, Google apps already offers a social overlay, inasmuch as it needs to in order to enable file and folder sharing – Google Apps has been doing so for years now and is equally easy to use as DropBox in my opinion.

Alex Williams was even more forceful, saying that;

Dropbox is a gem w/ incredible depth. a new kind of technolgy that , Ben, you are very much underestimating.

Alex is an awesome guy, and much of the time I’m happy to defer to his analysis, but I’ve been using DropBox (and competitors SugarSync, Syncplicity, Google Docs etc) for years and I really fail to see this depth that Alex intuits, as for DropBox being a new kind of technology, I don’t see that. It’s an effective front end to cloud storage that has done a great job of making a friendly UI. I don’t see anything really revolutionary in the technology there.

But my bottom line sits outside of the technology. DropBox, over a number of years, has shown itself to be poor at being a disciplined and effective business. They’ve grown amazingly well because of the viral nature of their product and largely because they had first move advantage. Google has the ability to be cheaper, more ubiquitous and has an existing client base that should readily convert to GDrive.

That’s my analysis – watch this space I guess.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

  • I have to say I use GDocs every day and it’s a different category.

    And I’ve tried DropBox and SugarSync (and a couple others) but settled on SugarSync since it was both a true backup and a true sync solution.

  • Fredericka Firestein |

    I can’t believe folders can’t be uploaded either. I ended up zipping up my folders and uploading them as archive files. I noticed in general though that the cloud drive and mp3 cloud player are very primitive. I can imagine (or hope at least) that in a year or two these will both be a lot more advanced than they are now. I can even see the mp3 cloud player one day having features that rival itunes. That will be nice.

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