point, most signs point toward Google releasing its rumored GDrive in the near future. In many ways, this mythical GDrive is simply the missing puzzle piece in Google's online strategy. While Google offers a number of online services with a storage component, it still doesn't offer a unified storage solution that brings Gmail, Picasa Web Albums, and Google Docs together.At this
Why it Matters: Bringing Cloud Storage to the Mainstream
You can already store your photos on Picasa Web Albums (though the amount of free storage is very limited). However, once you pay Google, your Gmail storage and Picasa storage limits become one - so Google clearly has at least some unified infrastructure for doing some of the back-end work in place already. According to a document (PDF) unearthed by Google is Watching You, that is exactly what Google is planning to do with the GDrive.
Google has enough clout to take online storage mainstream. While this directly benefits Google, it will also benefit the cloud storage industry in general, as the big name behind the product will drive up the general comfort level with online storage.
There are, of course, numerous small and medium sized-companies that offer online storage in some form or another. The smartest ones integrate directly with your desktop, so that you can seamlessly move data between the cloud and your own machine. A large number of other services also offer backup services, though without directly integrating this with your desktop. While all of these offerings are interesting, none have really made it into the mainstream yet.
What the GDrive is Up Against
Google's biggest competitor in this business is most likely going to be Microsoft, which has just started its push for cloud computing and storage. With its Live Drive, Microsoft offers 25GB of storage to all of its millions of Windows Live users. But Microsoft wouldn't be Microsoft if it didn't also offer ten different online storage solutions that can't speak to each other. You can also use LiveSync to transfer data between your own computers, Live Mesh for syncing and online storage, and Office Live Workspace for managing and storing office documents. And these are just Microsoft's consumer products in this space.
If Google gets the GDrive right, it will be able to offer one single online storage solution that does all of what Microsoft's plethora of tools does, but through one unified user interface and service. If the descriptions of the GDrive that have surfaced over the last week turn out to be true, then Google wants to offer a solution for all your files, including documents, photos, and (interestingly) music.
If Google can also offer solutions to access these files on mobile phones (besides Android) and if it offers a good integration with the desktop, then it could surely become the company that takes cloud storage into the mainstream.
Now we just have to wait for the actual release of the GDrive...