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Google adds to the cloud with Drive

In addition to remote storage, Drive gives users the ability to collaboratively edit documents in real time. Users will get access to 5 gigabytes of storage free of charge.

April 25, 2012|By Michelle Maltais, Los Angeles Times

The burgeoning cloud storage space business got more crowded Tuesday as Google launched its much-rumored and highly anticipated remote storage service, Drive.

Cloud-based storage gives users a place to park their documents, photos, presentations and other files so they can easily and immediately access and share them with various digital devices wherever they have an Internet connection.

But Google said its Drive service also gives users the ability to collaboratively edit documents in real time. As expected, the service also integrates search capabilities — by keyword, file type, author and image.

"Google Drive is significant because now all Google account holders have one-click sign-up to free file storage, sync and sharing, which has the potential to quickly build a large volume of users," said Frank Gillette, an analyst with Forrester Research.

Google's offering is the latest in the burgeoning role of cloud computing, he said.

"Integration with Google Docs/Apps and eventually with Gmail will make it more natural and seamless than managing from a separate account. The most interesting thing is integrated search within major file types, not just by title. 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."

The service goes head to head with established popular services such as DropBox and SugarSync. Google Drive users will get access to 5 gigabytes of storage free of charge, as they do with SugarSync and Box. DropBox, however, offers 2 gigabytes free of charge. Users can pay for more storage, from 25 gigabytes for $2.49 a month up to 1 terabyte for $49.99 a month.

"It's an insanely exciting time in the cloud storage and collaboration space, and Google's entry underscores the importance of this multibillion-dollar category," said Box co-founder and Chief Executive Aaron Levie. Box serves 10 million personal users.

Levie said Google's new service, which is mainly targeting consumers, is not expected to compete directly with Box, which is focused on providing secure cloud storage for businesses.

DropBox said in a statement that it is focused only on providing 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. :)"

Google said its remote storage drive will work like a folder on both Windows- and Mac-based computers. An application for Android-based smartphones and tablets is available, with one for Apple's iPhone and iPad in the works, the company said.

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