Last month we told you that Google was poised to finally launch their cloud storage application called Google Drive, and that it could be a big competitor in the cloud storage marketplace taking market share from DropBox and others. Well it did finally launch, and their initial offering has a little good, and some bad, and even a little ugly.
When you sign up, you are allotted 5 GB of storage space, and you can purchase an additional 25GB of storage for only $2.49 per month (a little under $30 a year) which makes it the cheapest cloud storage product on the market per GB.
In addition, if you use Gmail, when you purchase additional Drive space, your Gmail storage limit will be increased to 25GB of storage, so you get a bonus when you purchase additional space. And you will increase your storage limit with Picasa as well.
They also have a desktop app for both Windows and PC, allowing you to use your storage locally and sync to the cloud automatically, just like DropBox. Some reviewers have made through comparisons between the two like Witson Gordon over on Lifehacker.
There is an app for Android portable devices and tablets, so those using that platform will be able to sync their files everywhere.
To start with, Google did not offer an iOS app, so iPad users and iPhone users are out of luck for now. Different reports have the Drive app for iOS “almost done” but at the time of writing it still was not submitted to Apple for approval. I suppose it was to be expected since Google purchased Android back in 2005, they have always been slow to release products on the Apple platform. It took them a while to release Google Chrome for the Mac.
Google docs users will find that once they sign up for Google Drive that it will replace Google Docs. Your Docs shortcut on the Google toolbar will be replaced with Drive, although it appears that all of your functionality will still be available. Some users may not actually see this as a bad point, but the jury is still out as to what will happen to Docs in the future. It was frustrating searching all over for Docs after I signed up for Drive as there was no notice that the two were going to be combined.
What is bad is that in order to edit files created in Word or Excel that are stored on Google Drive, you will have to convert these files to Google Docs programs. Native Word and Excel files will open only as read only files when you access then online. So in order to keep from changing from one format to another, they are forcing you to use Google docs as your document editor. Tony Bradley has a good article over on PC World about these issues. You could always just save the files and then download to your machine to edit, but it is adding additional steps that is annoying.
“When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps).”
There have been many articles (ex. from Search Engine Roundtable and another from ZDNet) covering the Terms issues. Google has tried to clarify the Terms by saying that they are for your protection, and everything is OK, but many are skeptical. Others have been looking into the terms from other services, including DropBox and Microsoft SkyDrive, and while there are some concerns with other products, none have been quite as bad as those with Drive.
Will it Be Here Tomorrow?
The ultimate success or failure is yet to be determined. Not even a month old, there will be growing pains, for sure, and Google has shown that they will work hard to make changes to their products (not always for the better) and they are not afraid to pull the plug if a program is not doing well (Google Wave, Google Buzz, Health and many others). They will put the necessary money and their vast resources behind the project. Moving to the cloud has become a major trend in business tech, so getting a piece of the pie is important to their overall business strategy. Expect Google Drive to be around for a long time to come.
Do you have a Google Drive account? Are your going to skip it for now? Tell us your stories of why or why not? We look forward to the discussion.