Following years of rumors saying that Google would launch a cloud-based storage service to compete with players such as Dropbox, Google did indeed introduce Google Drive in late April. You can sign up for 5GB of free cloud storage from Google, and use it efficiently with your Android device, but we made the point last month that a big part of Google Drive's purpose is to fill a gap in google's Chrome OS.
As we've reported before, with Chrome OS, Google bet heavily on the idea that consumers and business users would have no problem storing data and using applications in the cloud, without working on the locally stored data/applications model that most people are used to. Now, there are clear signs that Google Drive is going to be the stopgap that solves this Chrome OS problem.
In a recent post, I wrote:
"Google could create useful synergies between a new cloud-based storage service and Chrome OS, and there might even be room to give people storage incentives in the cloud if they choose Chrome OS. That kind of incentive might entice some businesses to adopt Chromebooks and Google's operating system.The price-per-gigabyte of storage has been dropping for many years, and it now represents a way that Google could spend very little to offer free incentives to adopt Chrome OS."
Sure enough, Sundar Pichai, the Googler who manages development of Chrome OS as well as the Google Apps online services, has confirmed that Google will closely integrateGoogle Drive online storage with an upcoming version of the Chrome OS operating system. Wired reports this:
"Basically, Google Drive — a service that operates on the web — will perform as if it was the local file system. If you open the ‘save file’ dialog box on Chrome OS, for instance, the system will take you straight to Google Drive. “We’ll…effectively integrate [Google] Drive into the native file system of Chrome OS,” says Scott Johnson, Google’s Google Drive product manager. “All the core OS functionality will use [Google] Drive as a place to store data — if that’s what you opt in to.”
Many people who have written Chromebooks off, and many people who think Google Drive is just an entertainment play, should take note of this. Think about it. One of the barriers to adoption for Chrome OS so far has been that it is not designed to work with locally stored data and apps. Instead, it concentrates everything on the cloud. But with Google Drive, users have a free and obvious way--and a way provided by Google--to marry storage, data and applications with use of Google's operating system.
f systems running Chrome OS start to come with large amounts of free Google Drive storage as an incentive to use the operating system, some enterprises might bite simply because Google would be providing them an end-to-end cloud computing solution: the OS, the storage, the cloud-based applications (Google Docs) and the tight security that Chrome OS is known for and that enterprises demand.
Look for Google's next play to be offering incentives to enterprises for lots of free cloud storage via Google Drive if they choose to adopt Chromebooks. It's a shrewd way in the door to enterprises, where Microsoft still has such dominant market share.