Google is providing 5GB of free storage with its Google Drive cloud storage product, which aims to provide a shared online workspace for collaboration.
The main features include integration with Google Docs so documents can be stored in Drive, plus built-in search. The search features optical character recognition and image recognition, which Google said is still in an early stage of development.
There is a Drive client application for Mac and PC devices, while Google has also developed a Drive app for Android phones and tablet.
“We’re also working hard on a Drive app for your iOS devices. And regardless of platform, blind users can access Drive with a screen reader,” Google product manager Scott Johnston wrote in a blog post.
As far as enterprise-ready goes, Google provides a control panel, encryption and two-factor authentication. Electronic documents can be signed using DocuSign or HelloFax. Data is replicated across multiple datacentres, while the service level is set at 99.9% availability, meaning the service may be unavailable for 43.2 minutes per month.
Businesses can purchase an additional 20GB of storage on Drive for $4 per month (£2.48).
Google is clearly pitching Drive at consumers who want to use cloud storage and business users. Microsoft's rival, SkyDrive, offers 7GB of free storage. An additional 20GB costs £6 per year, while a single user would pay £32 per year for 100GB of additional storage (compared to $59.88 or £37.13 for 100GB on Drive).
Dropbox Team is priced in a different way. It offers 100GB of storage for $200 (£124) per year, while a five-user licence costs $795 (£493). Each additional users costs $125 (£77.50).
Amazon S3 is charged on a monthly usage basis. However, for comparison, 20GB per year would cost $30 (£18.60) and users would pay $150 (£93) per year for 100GB.
Apple's iCloud costs £28 per year for an additional 20GB, while 50GB is charged at £70 per year.
|Additional 20GB per year||Additional 100GB per year|
Forrester principal analyst Rob Koplowitz, noted in a blog post that Google has provided many IT department -friendly features. But he believes for Google to succeed, it must decouple Drive from other Google cloud products like Gmail and Docs.
"Google has been successful to date in the enterprise. No doubt they're making money," said Koplowitz.
"However, they have not yet made the move to that short list of strategic enterprise suppliers. That requires gobbling up lots market share early, and this could be their chance."
Mark Little, principal analyst at Ovum, said: “For Google, the platform potential of Google Drive is of strategic importance, leveraging its developer strengths and competitive pricing (50% cheaper than Apple’s iCloud in some cases) to drive penetration of its cloud offering via both consumer and enterprise channels.
"This is a major challenge to Apple’s iCloud and others whose propositions are selling cloud storage as a useful ancillary to using their applications.
"The Google Drive proposition is the other way around, offering cloud storage as a core service from which users can access an ecosystem of highly useful applications.”