Internet search giant Google Inc. launched a free-of-charge cloud-based storage service Tuesday called Drive. The service puts Google into direct competition with companies like DropBox and others that provide online storage space for consumers to save their photos, music, documents and even movies and software, giving them the ability to access the data on different devices. Google Drive, which users can access with their Gmail accounts, provides the first 5 gigabytes of storage for free, with users who go over paying for the service on a graduated scale.
Some observers have charged that Google's entry into the cloud storage sector is too late to make a significant dent in the market, as the majority of consumers that would be interested in cloud storage have already parked their data in virtual garages provided by DropBox, Microsoft's SkyDrive and others. The company offers storage up to a maximum of 16 terabytes, 160 times more than SkyDrive's maximum available space of 100GB. The company noted that that amount of space would be sufficient to store over 4,000 2-hour video files in 720p HD.
Google Drive is accessible for Macs and PCs, or through an app on Android based mobile devices. The Mountain View, California company is in the process of developing an app for Apple's iOS platform, but did not have an exact date for when it will become available. Google hopes to differentiate itself from cloud storage competitors by taking advantage of its expertise in Internet search.