Whatever happened to GDrive

Mike Arrington asks “What ever happened to GDrive?” especially now with SkyDrive and a host of others offering large online storage for peanuts. Well its no biggy if you stop for a second to think past the mountains of technology that pour out of Google and realise that their primary business is advertising.

No huge insight there. The difficulty arises when you try to apply Google’s standard monetization strategy to raw storage. Sure you can index it, but only for each individual user, so you soak up scads of compute power without any power law results in terms of aggregated value for all the google search users. You could try and aggregate the results but you can bet dollars to donuts that joe user (and the EFF, FSF etc. etc.) would scream blue bloody murder about infringement of privacy, and they’d be right.

The other way Google normally makes money out of content is to stick a stream of adverts alongside but that won’t fly with remote storage because 99% of the consuming applications don’t have a mechanism to consume or display that ad stream (‘cos guess who the vendor is?).

So now we have the rub, if your turn on GDrive you immediately have to allocate a gazillon gigabytes of storage for every tyre kicker in the northern hemisphere to try out the service, which ain’t small potatoes even for an outfit with a grid the size of Googles (can you say grid envy? :-)).  Plus all the bandwidth in both directions (virtual storage takes bites in both directions, especially that bad boy webdav) and not a dollar  of advertising revenue to be had. No wonder they  said “woah there cowboy”.

Instead there is a tentative dip in the water for Google Docs and Google Web Albums,  But you have to pay which kinda breaks the free for consumers model, That model has been at the heart of everything Google does (and that free model breaks poor Microsoft’s heart a little everyday so they must doing air punches all over Seattle).

Its seem clear that Google sees the way out of this conundrum by keeping you inside the Google World (Gmail, GDocs, GReader) where they can continue to face paint your browser with advertising.  Unfortunately doing anything other than the daily flyer in GDocs is like pulling your own teeth out with a pliers which means its back to Microsoft Office for that quarterly results report.

So expect the burgeoning pay-to-play storage community to make hay while the sun shines especially with Amazon stepping up to fill the infrastructure gap.

Beaten out of a market by a book vendor, maybe those Google techies ain’t so smart after all 🙂

And Microsoft,  500MB of storage? You must be havin’ a laff…

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