(Reuters) – Google Inc is preparing to roll out a service to let consumers store photos and other content online, a source familiar with the matter said, pushing into a market now dominated by the likes of Dropbox and Box.
The service, to be called Google Drive, could be announced as soon as Tuesday and would be offered with both free and premium for-pay versions, the source said.
Google’s “cloud storage” offering will incorporate search capabilities and allow users to store pictures, notes and other documents on the Internet and access them from any Web-connected device.
Consumers will get 5 Gigabytes of storage for free with Google Drive, while various versions with incrementally more storage capacity, topping out at about 100 Gibabytes, will be available for monthly fees, the source said.
It was not immediately clear how much Google will charge for the premium versions.
A Google spokeswoman said the company does not comment on rumor or speculation.
The move turns up the competitive heat with high-profile Web startups such as Dropbox, Box and Evernote, as well as with Microsoft Corp and its SkyDrive service.
Some of those services, such as Box, have offered an increasing array of business-oriented features such as online collaboration capabilities.
Google is increasingly developing services to let consumers store their personal information, from digital music to photos, on remote Internet servers and access the data any time with any device, such as smartphones, tablets and desktop computers.
The world’s No.1 Web search engine with roughly $38 billion in 2011 revenue, Google generates 96 percent of its revenue from advertising, such as the small ads that appear alongside its search results.
Google Drive will work with sophisticated image search technology to let consumers sift through a wide variety of document types, which could include the likes of Adobe PDF files and photographs, the source said.
Some details of Google Drive have appeared in various online blogs in recent months, including The Next Web, which first reported that the service could be rolled out this week.
Sometimes we get lucky, and today is one of those days. I got a draft release from a partner of Google’s upcoming Google Drive service and it gives away a wealth of information about how Google plans to take on the incumbent Dropbox. The short story? 5 GB of storage, and it launches next week, likely on Tuesday at http://drive.google.com
Now let’s talk details. It’s no surprise that it will roll out for free. What’s interesting though is that Google is planning to start everyone with 5 GB of storage. Of course you can buy more, but that trumps Dropbox’s 2 GB that is included with every account. Dropbox does make it easy to get more space, including 23 GB of potential upgrades for HTC users.
What’s also interesting is the wording related to how the system will work. It’s been long-thought that Windows integration will come easy, but that getting the Google Drive icon into the Mac a la Dropbox would be a bit harder. From what we’re reading, Google Drive will work “in desktop folders” on both Mac and Windows machines, which still leaves the operation question unanswered.
But there is one very solid piece of news – Google Drive is expected to launch in the middle of next week. Given how big companies such as Apple, Google and the rest operate, I’m placing my bets on Tuesday, but Wednesday is also a popular day for Google updates. In fact, TechCrunch seems to have gotten their hands onto the app itself.
Now as for the reliability of the information? It’s not at all uncommon for big companies to launch with partners for new features. When that happens, the partners will often-times have a heads up to integration and specifics, and that’s exactly what appears to have happened here as it did with the Lucidchart leak from last week. We’ll have to wait and see exactly how it all works out, but let’s just say that our earlier prediction of in-app document editing is pretty solid as well, given the nature of the release that was sent to us today.
But the question remains – Can Google Drive hold a candle to Dropbox?