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Google Drive Gets Real, Rivals Prep for Invasion

The long-rumored Google Drive cloud storage service is expected to be launching this week, and if one seemingly credible launch partner leak is not enough to back that this is the real deal, rivals’ preemptive strikes seem to support that it’s coming.

For one, Cloudline was contacted contacted by Backupify’s Senior VP of Sales and Marketing, Rob Stevens, to head off the news (his thoughts on Google Drive later.) And cloud storage/sync darling DropBox today introduced an easier, more social feature for its service: direct linking to shared content.

TechCrunch said last week it had actually tracked down an OS X app for the service.

So what’s to be expected, and why should we care? We previously covered a leak that said Google Drive would come with 5GB of storage. That’s being reported as the ticket again, and the service is expected to be live http://drive.google.com this week some time. The Next Web is picking tomorrow. We’ll see.

Backupify’s Rob Stevens: “Google has always said that their goal is to ‘organize the world’s information’ (not an exact quote). Historically they’ve not really addressed information stored on personal machines, instead focusing on shared information. An increasing amount of what used to be ‘personal’ is now becoming ‘shared’ — Google docs are a great example of how information that used to be only accessible by one person can now be shared. My guess is that they view the Gdrive as a way to move more siloed information to a shared world where it can used to collaborate.”

And the big question: winners and losers. “I suspect that Mozy, Carbonite and other online backup providers may offer a ‘choose your backup target’ approach for the low end, like Crashplan does, allowing the users to send backup data to whatever destination they wish. Online backup providers will likely be somewhat protected by the relatively low storage provided in the free model — most people can’t back up their photo and music collections to a 5GB (the rumored size) or even 10GB location, so they will likely be able to maintain the business selling online storage,” Stevens said.

“Dropbox seems like the real target of this product — their incredibly rapid and viral growth must have been a real shock to the folks at Google, who (it’s rumored) had scuttled a “Gdrive” idea previously. With more than 45 million users (as of Nov 2011), Dropbox has a strong start. The question will be how they, and other providers like Box.net respond to Google’s entry,” he notes.

Alastair Mitchell, CEO and co-founder of Huddle, (who is obviously watching this space closely too, given his post last week about Google’s outage) wrote to Cloudline after this post was first published with his thoughts:

“With 5GB of free storage to keep and share music, videos and pictures, consumers not familiar with Dropbox are bound to be ecstatic about the launch of Google Drive,” Mitchell writes. “I’m a massive proponent of consumerization of technology in the workplace, however a thousand instances of Google Drive doesn’t make enterprise software; security and IT control aside, we are talking about one thousand silos of enterprise content: non-searchable, non-discoverable and pretty useless if you are interested in effective knowledge sharing and corporate agility.”

Mitchell argues enterprises need smarter content management.”I’m talking about universal access, the end of search and automatic push of relevant content to a user, and as easy to use as Dropbox (jury out on Google Drive). It’s the only way forward.”

And Microsoft is also polishing up its Skydrive service, today adding “a new ‘fetch’ remote PC access service, new storage options, and the ability to access SkyDrive via iOS and Windows Phone smartphones,” as well as upping the ante for some new sign-ups to (get this!) 7GB, reports PCMag.com.

Microsoft’s timing is somewhat suspicious: both Samsung and Sony launching cloud services, and reports had tipped Google Drive to launch this week.

OK, so the enterprise guys are off the hook, at least immediately. But if it is 5GB of storage, that is a one-uppance on a default starting point over Dropbox, but more importantly Google Drive was expected to offer was social ease, with integration on Google+ and other social networks. But Dropbox headed that off today with a touch of “touché”

How do you see it playing out? Is Google only going after Dropbox? Or should Mozy, Carbonite and Backupify be worried about Google Drive? (Google has some big data centers.; and that’s all we know about.)

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