online storage options via a post on the company's Official Google Blog. The new rates give you 20 GB for $5 per year, or, as Google puts it "twice as much storage for a quarter of the old price." The new options also let you expand your storage all the way up to 16 TB if need be. As always, these extra storage options are available once you reach the limit of your free storage.Google just announced dramatically reduced prices for their
However, the system still only works with Gmail and the photo-sharing service Picasa. There's no mention of it expanding to encompass other Google services like Google Docs, for example. And there's definitely no mention of the seemingly mythical GDrive, the long-rumored online storage system supposedly under development which would allow for the upload of any file type for safe storage in the cloud. We're beginning to wonder: will Google ever offer us a real cloud storage solution?
Ties to Google Chrome OS?
Over on The Next Web, blogger Alex Wilhelm thinks the increased storage space hints at Google's future plans with their upcoming netbook operating system, Google Chrome OS. We have to admit, the same thought occurred to us as well. After all, netbooks don't typically have the same hard disk space as their larger, less totable counterparts. However, that's not always the case these days given the new middle-of-the-road offerings like the HP Mini 311, for example, which falls somewhere between an ultra-portable netbook and full-sized notebook with its 350 GB hard drive option.
But Alex has a point: by providing this type of cloud storage solution, netbooks can remain basic machines which are smaller and cost less. That would pave the way for the Google Chrome OS line of netbooks to be even more affordable devices than what's on the market today since they wouldn't need to come equipped with large hard drives.
Obviously, an OS-integrated cloud storage system of this nature would be a natural fit for Google's cloud operating system designed specifically for netbooks. And yet, it still seems to be an incomplete offering at this time.
But Still So Limited!
As much as we want to believe that the new changes are a sign of Google's plans for Chrome OS, it's just as possible that they're nothing more than the great discounts they appear to be. There's nothing all that new being introduced here - just better rates and more available space.
Sadly, the core storage offering itself is unchanged. It's still very limited, only encompassing Gmail and Picasa photos. What about the rest of our files - like the ones stored in Google Docs? What about our music and movie collections? What about the hundred or so of home videos we can't bear to delete from our hard drives? Google has no centralized solution for any of this yet. And many are beginning to wonder if they ever will.
In the tech community, there have been rumors about an all-encompassing online storage service called GDrive for years on end now, and yet, nothing has ever come of it. According to speculation (and wishful thinking), the supposed system would allow for the upload of all types of files and would tie together all of Google's services.
In our imaginations, we envision a dashboard that links us to our online Google Docs, our photos, our Gmail, our Google Sites, and our multimedia content. The GDrive of our dreams would be accessible from any computer, keeping in sync all our user data, preferences, and settings. You can see a hint of how this sync could work with the way the Google Chrome web browser stores your favorites. Your bookmarked sites are now available in the browser no matter what PC you use while a backup copy sits in Google Docs. GDrive should do the same, but not just for web browser favorites - for everything. That would be the final step for making a cloud OS a reality.
It's almost strange at this point that Google hasn't released something of the sort yet. In fact, they've let Microsoft beat them to the punch in this instance courtesy of Microsoft's SkyDrive service which launched back in early 2008. SkyDrive offers a free 25 GB of online storage for your files and also serves as the central repository for Windows Live Photos as well as the documents created via the new Office Web Applications service, Microsoft's challenge to Google Docs. But where's Google's answer to this? When will it come? Will it ever?
Perhaps the company is waiting for the release of Google Chrome OS to dazzle us with some sort of revamped interface for a game-changing cloud computing operating system. Or perhaps the company is just doing what it does best: offering solutions that are simply good enough.
What do you think? Will Google ever offer us a real cloud storage system or is this all we'll ever get?