Tuesday, January 27, 2009


A friend of mine sent me this blog post on why google web drive won't kill windows or anything else. To be honest, I'm surprised by the author's short-sightedness.

First, Scott mentions DropBox as a pre-existing replacement for GDrive. He then points out that Google plans to tie the GDrive in to Google Docs and that DropBox doesn't currently have that functionality. However, he doesn't see that as a game changer. What he doesn't comprehend is that Google has more than just Google Docs. Google has Gmail, Calendar, YouTube, Blogger, and an ever growing number of other sites. They also have an operating system (Android). So, you'll be able to turn on your netbook and have it sync your email, documents, favorite shows and blogs, etc... immediately from the cloud. Don't think that will happen? GMail is already offering an offline syncing mechanism through Gears through GMail Labs How much longer before they expand the syncing mechansim to work with other things like Google Docs, YouTube, etc... Google has consistently been able to deliver on big ideas and this one is one of the biggest.

Scott also mentions the trust issue. Who wants Google to store their most personal documents? I think this will become less of an issue over time. Already people are using services such as carbonite to back thier computer up online. How much different is it to trust an encrypted Google cloud? I think this issue will stay a hot topic for a few years, but in 4 or 5 years when everyone is using the cloud more and more it will become a non-issue except for the most sensitive documents. Google is already heavily advertising its security features.

Another issue is downtime. What happens when the cloud goes offline? Once again, I think this will be less of an issue over time as the cloud becomes more stable. Even now, how often does GMail go down? I think my internet provider goes down more often than GMail does. Moreover, I can't get much done without an internet connection anyway, so offline availability doesn't really help me out much. I think the more Google convinces people that the cloud technology is stable the more they will flock to it and use it. After all there are many benefits to cloud technology such as redundency, multi-computer availability, etc...

Scott is right in saying that there are currently alternatives in DropBox and Windows Live Sync, but only Windows Live Sync has the capability of rivaling GDrive. Microsoft has services in its hotmail mail service and its online office suite. They will have to continue to integrate those into the cloud to keep up with Google. Not only that, but if they could integrate their next XBox platform into the cloud so that you could store your games on the cloud (or just download them directly from the cloud) then that would be a big plus and something that Google can't currently rival. Having a home media system synced to Microsoft's cloud could promote using the Microsoft cloud for other things such as mail and documents.

I certainly believe in Microsoft's ability to beat back the Google threat, but I'm not narrow minded enough to think that GDrive is not a threat. It is the backbone of the internet operating system that Google is building to take on Microsoft.


Frank McCown said...

I agree that security will be less of an issue in the future, but Scott makes a good point that media (music and movies) are taking up tons of space, and syncing that much data is going to take too much time. In fact, the 80/20 rule will probably apply- 80% of Google's cloud will be filled with 20% of their customer's stuff (maybe 90/10 is more accurate). And for latency issues, the cloud will probably never replace your hard drive.

Tanton said...

I think the space issue is a red herring. Though lots of people have lots of songs and movies, there aren't that many *different* songs or movies out there. Think of how many songs and movies Apple or Netflix stores. There is no reason for Google to store multiple copies of the same file (except for redundancy/availability/performance reasons) so the amount of space taken up with media will not be as huge as people think.

As for latency, that is still an issue, but will get better over time. Even now I only have the most basic cable package and watch most things through hulu, netflix, or one of the network sites. Streaming works fine in that case. There are still some hiccups, but technology will improve. If you want a large amount of music or videos available, you'll probably have it on your iPod and syncing from the web won't be that big of an issue.