Google is reportedly preparing to roll out its previously-dubbed "GDrive" online storage service in as early as a few months, according to sources cited in a Wall Street Journal report. While online storage services are already available from third-parties (including from rivals Microsoft and Yahoo!), Google's potential offering is of interest because of high expectations the company can offer a simplified, reliable service with tie-ins to its Apps suite. However, Google faces a number of obstacles in creating a service that meaningfully challenges Microsoft's long dominance of the way people access and store files. Key concerns are privacy, which is partially related to whether advertisements will be displayed as a part of using the service, and copyright issues related to the capability of sharing files, including media files. Also of importance is the reliability of the service and it having a simple on/offline user interface, which makes using the storage similar to accessing a local hard drive. A Google spokeswoman declined to comment on specifics, but said in a statement that "storage is an important component of making Web [applications] fit easily into consumers' and business users' lives." Sources didn't know about pricing, but said Google plans to offer both free and fee-based storage allotments. Shares of Google lost 1.6% to $666 on Monday.
Commentary: Google Mobile: Winners and Losers • Google Taking Lion's Share of Search Market • Google-friendly PC by Everex for $198 (No Microsoft Software)
Stocks to watch: GOOG. Competitors: MSFT, YHOO, STX, WDC
Earnings call transcript: Google Q3 2007, Microsoft F1Q08