The GDrive - don't fret it, Dropbox (and others)

January 15, 2010 // Tagged in: box.net, dropbox, gdrive, google, googledocs

In tune with my method of forming headlines that distract from my writing’s lack of any real substance or originality, I’ve managed to summarize the whole point of this posting in a mere eight words. But for the sake of you taking the time to actually clicking through to my site, I’ll elaborate just that tiny bit more to make it worth your while.

Now, the fabled GDrive has been around for quite some time now (check out this news timeline for the last couple of years), albeit only in the wet dreams of tech-journos and bloggers. With companies providing online storage sprouting like the proverbial mushroom from the vast expanses of our dear Internet, everyone expected Google to come out with a solution as well. Which, considering they own roughly 90% of all active serverspace currently in existence, wouldn’t be too surprising a move (about that percentage: this is something I just made up, but feel free to quote me!).

Anyway, Google was largely unimpressed with everyone and their grandma pestering them to offer that kind of service already, but a couple of days ago, in a nonchalant move mirroring the actual impact of their announcement, the GDrive was introduced. Only that it’s not called that and that it adds another dimension to the term “underwhelming”.

Why? Well, here’s what it does. Basically, it’s an extension of Google Docs, the online document collaboration tool offered by Google for everyone with a Google account. Until now, the only files you could upload to Google Docs were those that are, well, some sort of document. As the more detailed announcement on the Google Docs blog says , they will start rolling out the ability to upload any kind of file (provided it’s not larger than 250mb), up to a limit of 1GB, with the option of buying more GB for a certain amount of money.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like it. It’s nice to be able to upload all sorts of shit and have it lounging about in my Google Docs window. It’s just, this isn’t anything they couldn’t have done 2 years ago. Actually, it isn’t anything anyone could’ve done 2 years ago with a bit of server space and some spare time on their hands. And yes, I do get the whole sharing idea, which, as we’re being told 24/7 by anyone who thinks you’re listening, is pivotal to the way the Internets work today. But hey, I’ve known of services that let you upload files and share them for, well, ages.

Which ones, you might ask? Well, there’s box.net, which has been around since the Nixon administration (I think), which does a fantastic job, has a great API and is overall one of the best online storage solutions ever. And then of course there’s everybody’s new darling Dropbox. Which, I might add, truly is one sexy little service (and with sexy I really mean useful, I just thought it might sounds sexier to call something sexy instead of useful – for reasons you might want to file under “trying to attract new audiences by using the word sexy”). Dropbox not only lets you upload files, it also offers to sync them to all your computers and portable devices.

Now, let’s return just real quick to that carefully crafted headline you’ve been subjected to at the start of this lengthy beast of an article. Ever since Google has proved to be not only good at search but also good at throwing money and manpower at anything they think might be a good addition to their services (everything), little startups have had it rough. After spending years developing a service and establishing and maintaining a user base, Google could simply step in, decide they want the same thing and suddenly your business model of charging users for what Google offers for free would seem a bit off.

With the GDrive though, Dropbox, Box.net and their myriad of colleagues have lucked out. Because even though the GDrive might be an interesting enhancement to Googel Docs, it’s nowhere near anything current online storage services offer, meaning that whoever runs Dropbox, etc., can now finally get some sleep again.

But the best thing about it all? People will now finally shut up about the GDrive.