April 25, 2012 at 21:36 PM EDT
Google Launches Google Drive, How Does it Rate Against the Competition?
Google finally put to rest years of speculation about its cloud service when it announced Tuesday morning the launch of its own cloud storage service called Google Drive.
(IBTimes) -- 04/25/2012 --

Google finally put to rest years of speculation about its cloud service when it announced Tuesday morning the launch of its own cloud storage service called Google Drive.

The new service gives users online storage similar to Dropbox and Microsoft's SkyDrive. Users can access their files from computers and other devices including iPhones, iPads and Android devices. Google Drive gives users free 5 Gb of storage space. Google's new service is the company's first foray into cloud services. Google says its service encourages users to spend more time online with its Google Docs and now Google Drive.

"Drive is something we intend to be at the center of our users' online experience," Sundar Pichai, Google senior vice president for Chrome and Apps wrote in a blog post. "We see this as a primary place for people to go to create and collaborate and live in the cloud across devices and across applications and have their important data available to them seamlessly."

Google Drive will allow users to put a Google Drive folder on multiple computers and then drag any document, photo or file on the folder to make it accessible to any other computer. Users can now collaborate on spreadsheets, presentations and video on Google's own Google Docs service. Users can add comments to shared files.  Google Drive is compatible with any computer that runs Windows, or Android or even Apple's Mac computer. Google says compatibility with Apple's iPhone is in the works.

Google isn't the only company entering the cloud storage market. Microsoft and Apple both have online storage while Dropbox and other companies have done well as cloud service providers. How does Google Drive stack up against them?

Google offers users an initial 5 Gb of storage space for free, which is about the same as Apple. By comparison Dropbox only offers 2 Gb of free storage. Microsoft has the upper hand in this comparison because its SkyDrive offers 7 Gb of free storage. Paid users will have to pay Google $30 a year for 25 Gb of storage plus 25 Gb of Gmail storage. For an additional 100 Gb of storage users will have to pay $60 a year or $5 a month to Google. This is a bit more than other service providers. Microsoft only charges $50 a year for 100 Gb of additional storage.

Google Drive does have the unique feature that allows users to turn on OCR text scanning which means that Google can scan any image for text and make them searchable. Google Drive also has the ability to open up to 30 kinds of files inside your browser. While this isn't as impressive as Dropbox' new feature that allows users to share a link to files inside Dropbox, Google Drive's features are certainly worth taking a look at.

With the launch of Google Drive and other cloud storage services it becomes clear that mainstream users will find that cloud storage will change the way that people will interact with the Internet.

"Personal cloud is far more than just storage; it's synchronization, it's streaming, it's sharing files. Those ultimately become more important to the consumer than things like the personal computer," said Gartner Research Director Michael Gartenberg. "The age of the personal cloud becomes far more important than the personal computer."

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