Google has officially launched its Google Drive cloud storage product

Google Officially Launches Cloud Storage Service Google Drive

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Search engine giant Google officially announced on Tuesday that it has launched its anticipated cloud storage service Google Drive.

In a post on Tuesday afternoon on the Google blog, Sundar Pichai, SVP, Chrome and apps, said that users will be given 5GB of free storage, with the option to upgrade for a recurring monthly fee. On Monday, Microsoft announced that its cloud storage product SkyDrive would now include 7GB of free storage, or 25GB for existing users.

Rumors of Drive have been heating up in the past few months, though analysts have been speculating for years that Google would eventually launch a cloud storage product.

Google Drive is priced lower than Dropbox, at 25GB for $2.49/month, 100GB for $4.99/month or 1TB for $49.99/month. Included with a paid account is 25GB of Gmail account storage as well. DropBox offers 2GB of free storage, and offers 50GB for $9.99/month, or 100GB for $19.99/month. Dropbox’s model is slightly different though, offering additional free storage when users refer friends.

Web hosts that offer cloud storage may not feel that Google Drive is much of a threat, especially if they offer managed email and security products. Drive is designed to work with other Google products like Gmail, and is being looked at as a way for Google to retain customers, not acquire new ones. However, web hosts offering cloud storage to customers may feel the need to lower prices as it becomes commoditized. The third-party app integration may also be of note to web hosting providers, as there are several free web hosting apps in the Google Chrome web store like Yola, which combines a free website builder and hosting, that can be integrated with the Google Drive offering.

Google Drive has a lot of expected features from a consumer cloud storage product, including collaboration. Google Docs is integrated into Drive so users can work with others in real time on documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Users can install Drive on a Mac or PC, and download the Drive app to Android devices for now, with iOS support being added soon.

Google’s Optical Character Recognition technology, and the integration of third-party apps like DocuSign, and HelloFax, which send faxes and sign documents, are a few of the features that set Google Drive apart. As expected from a company that has made a fortune on search, the OCR technology allows users to search text in scanned documents. While still in development, Quentin Hardy, in a post on the New York Times Bits blog, says the technology is impressive. A scanned letter could also be transferred to a Google Docs format and appear as text.

Talk back: What do you think of Google Drive? Do you think it poses any direct threat to your cloud storage business? Let us know your thoughts in a comment.

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