Google has not confirmed the existence of Drive, the rumored cloud storage
system that could integrate many of its services. But the latest rumor is that the much anticipated service will draw users in with 5 gigabytes of free storage, and could debut as soon as April 16.
A supposedly "leaked screenshot" posted by the Web site Talk Android shows a dialog box for the beta version of Google Drive For Windows that prompts the user to "Download Now," promising that you can access documents on mobile phones, desktops, tablets or at drive.google.com, an address that currently does not function. Editing documents on any one device will automatically update the documents accessed elsewhere.
Google Drive, whose name suggests a virtual hard drive maintained for you by the search giant, would offer an initial 5 gigabytes that could be upgraded later, presumably with a higher class of service at a cost.
'No Comment On Rumors'
When contacted by e-mail on Friday, a Google spokesperson would not confirm or deny the reported leak, saying only "We do not comment on rumors or speculation."
The service would compete with others that sell virtual closet space for data, including Google's own Managed Storage, which allows Google Apps customers to save up to 16 terabytes of data without new software or hardware.
User Managed Storage is intended to appeal to consumers and businesses alike, with the cost to save 20 GB of data only $5 a year and the maximum cost for the 16 TB limit is $4,096 a year.
Cloud storage is becoming increasingly popular, which is somewhat counter-intuitive given the growth of easily affordable storage solutions like flash drives and external drives with terabytes of space.
Last year, one storage company, Mozy, stopped offering unlimited backups for $4.99 per month and instead offers a range of limited plans. Mozy also offers Stash, a service very similar to what Google Drive is purported to be.
Technology consultant Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group tells us Google's offering 5 GB for free won't likely have much impact on other paid cloud services.
"With folks saving all their pictures, music and videos, 5 GB really isn't that much anymore, and services that provide more capacity and better security will likely still be able to charge for the services," he said. "In addition folks will generally find they'll end up paying for more storage rather than move to another provider.
"The free bar will continue to advance as costs drop but data is growing faster than the bar is rising and as long as that is the case, and people are increasingly concerned about the security of free services, funded services should be able to continue to provide enhancements or capacities that folks are willing to pay for. "