The Wall Street Journal has the scoop on the latest Google news. Google is hoping to offer consumers a new way to store and access files online. The search giant is working on a service that would let you store essentially all of your files online (documents, music, photos, videos, etc.).
I already do this with Mozy for free. But Mozy works more as a backup that I generally access only when I need to restore files. Google wants to simplify the process of transferring and opening files such that you would actually be using your online files actively.
In true Google style, the service will be free for a limited amount of storage with charges occurring above a certain threshold. In fact, for an example of how this might work, take a look at Google’s Picasa Web Albums photo-hosting service. You can upload photos online and share them with friends, up to one gigabyte for free. You can then purchase 10 gigabytes to 400 gigabytes for around $20 to $500 per year. Just take that service, throw in other types of files and better accessibility, and you might have the GDrive.
Of course, all the standard issues will apply: data privacy, copyright, scalability, etc. We’re all accustomed to targeted ads along side our email in Gmail. But Google bots mining my documents to send me ads? No, thank you.
Copyright issues will also be a tricky one this time around. If these plans are true and Google makes it easy for consumers to share different types of files online as part of this new service, how will it address copyright complaints? One person familiar with the matter says Google is discussing with copyright holders how to approach the issue and has some “preliminary solutions.” Whatever the solutions, how likely would you be to move all your computing online if Google was watching over your shoulder to make sure you weren’t violating copyrights?
Google’s response to the privacy concerns seemed like it could have been taken seriously: “It is certainly approached with the utmost sensitivity on our end,” said a Google spokeswoman. “We have extensive safeguards in place currently to protect our user data and we have a very strong track record in this regard.”
I say “could have” because just a few paragraphs later, we find this:
“A document Google inadvertently released on the Web in March 2006 said it was moving toward being able to “store 100% of user data,” citing “emails, Web history, pictures, bookmarks” as a few examples. The document referred to what appeared to be unannounced Google initiatives, including one dubbed “GDrive” and said they could help compete with Microsoft.”
So Google wants me to entrust them with all my files when it has issues inadvertently releasing its own. Oh, the irony.