Google Drive takes on Microsoft SkyDrive, but at a higher price

Google Drive is alive.

The long-rumored online storage service was officially announced today, following an apparent attempt at pre-emption by Microsoft earlier in the week. But in both timing and the wallet, Microsoft SkyDrive may have the advantage.

Not surprisingly, Google Drive is billed as “a place where you can create, share, collaborate, and keep all your work.” Google says it has built Google Docs into Google Drive, allowing commenting on any shared files. Drive also can be installed on Mac and Windows, as an Android phone or tablet app, and Google says the Drive iOS app is in the works. Google search technology — including image recognition — applies across all files stored in Google Drive.

Perhaps of more interest to Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Dropbox and others with competing services is the pricing: 5GB free, 25GB for $2.49/month, or 100GB for $4.99/month. Google Apps for Business customers can purchase each 20GB chunk of extra storage for $4/month, up to a total of 16TB. Google also will, with the introduction of Drive, increase included Gmail storage to 10GB from 7.5GB.

Just yesterday, Microsoft rolled out new paid plans for its SkyDrive online storage service. Both SkyDrive’s free storage and paid plans trump today’s Google Drive announcement with 7GB free, an additional 20GB storage for $10/year, 50GB for $25/year and 100GB for $50/year.

That initially pencils out to a significant price advantage for SkyDrive at lower storage volumes (at least for now), and only if raw online storage is the metric without factoring in what can be done with stored data.

Previously: Dropbox, Microsoft SkyDrive add new storage features as Google Drive looms

Frank Catalano is a regular GeekWire columnist helping with vacation fill-in duty this week. You can follow Frank on Twitter @FrankCatalano.

  • Guest

    Wow, MS pre-empting anyone, and with a better overall offer. Now that hasn’t happened in a long time.

  • http://gregg.mine.nu/ Димитър Цонев (Dimitar Tsonev)

    Google no longer offers the cheapest cloud storage. Microsoft is the winner.

    • http://www.intrinsicstrategy.com/ FrankCatalano

      It will be interesting to see how this plays out. True differentiation (and extra value) may come in the app layer that each storage provider can add. And it seems Google is emphasizing that in Google Drive. I doubt Microsoft will ignore that.

      • http://twitter.com/B_Frei Brent Frei

        Frank, you’re astute to call out the extra value angle.  Our customers have been asking for the tight integration now possible between Drive and cloud apps.  Being able to function from inside Drive can be a pretty useful value add - 
        http://www.smartsheet.com/blog/brent-frei/smartsheet-business-app-google-drive  Smartsheet was a launch partner with Drive and the workflows have been well received by the pre-launch beta testers.

        • http://www.intrinsicstrategy.com/ FrankCatalano

          Brent, I tend to agree. I think the online storage will rapidly become a commodity. What you’re able to do with the data, also while in the cloud, and what else it can connect to will be important as well. That’s why Docs = Drive for many.

          But for some, just having Dropbox-like functionality is all they want. And we haven’t even begun to discuss online backup providers, such as Mozy, who have begun moving into Dropbox-like functionality.

      • http://twitter.com/BIGELLOW Bob Bigellow

        What will also be interesting is this. If Microsoft had always planned on keeping their system closed, so that every file type was managed by their own web app, then Google’s entry will just force Microsoft’s hand to be more open.

        If Microsoft fails to do so, the value of Google Drive will just go up and up over time. If Microsoft maintains an open API, it will be easy for anyone to make their own connector to allow SkyDrive hosted Word Docs and Excel Spreadsheets to appear in Google Drive, opening the files up in Microsoft’s web apps. This would essentially make Google Drive THE place to host all of your physical and virtual files no matter who is running the web service to allow editing and collaborating.

        The only response Microsoft could give to thwart this is to close their system further (hurting themselves in the long run) or to OPEN their system, allowing third-party apps.

        This would then, once again, allow a third-party to write a connector to let SkyDrive manage Google Docs and Google Spreadsheets, etc… It’s forced interoperability through a strategic move.

        All the while, it’s just making devices like Chromebooks seem more and more usable.

  • Guest

    Congratulations to Google on the launch! Call me querulous, though, but why should I enjoy only 5 GB of storage in Google Drive when I can have twice as much data in Gmail using applications such as Gmail Drive?

    • http://profiles.google.com/ee2718 admin 1

      I think Google Docs files don’t count to the 5GB.

  • Nathan Kaiser

    Does anyone know if Google Drive will provide client-side encryption?

  • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

    I’d be curious to know what the comparative privacy policies are. What I’m most concerned about with something like this is what they’re going to be doing with the data.

    • Guest

      CNet has a legal analysis of the different privacy policies. Summary: under Google’s unified privacy policy, you’re granting Google far more rights than you are Dropbox by uploading the same file.

      • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

        Thanks, I did see that later yesterday. What I don’t get is why the privacy policy is looser AND their service is more expensive.

        Seems like the worst of both worlds to me.

        • Guest

          Honestly, it seems like whoever’s running the show at Google is really Tim Cooking it nowadays. Pride comes before the fall.

        • http://profiles.google.com/ee2718 admin 1

          I presume the SkyDrive account is tied to paying Microsoft for some of their rather overpriced products, so it isn’t free. Is it possible to use a Sky account and use Word, Excel, Powerpoint, without paying Microsoft anything? 

          I have a free Google Docs account, and I use LibreOffice along with Google Docs for productivity, so I don’t pay anything whatsoever to Google. 

  • http://techmansworld.blogspot.com/ MHazell

    I love using SkyDrive. I host my personal files, as well as my software projects there.

  • Ted_bears_234

    It’s a nice battle between these giants, I guess with price being the concern we’ll have to c where these firms go from here. Also some new firms are entering this battle such as CollateBox http://www.collatebox.com/ and SyncDocs. We’ll have to wait for these once.

  • rocky john

    Perhaps of more interest to Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Dropbox and
    others with competing services is the pricing: 5GB free, 25GB for
    $2.49/month, or 100GB for $4.99/month

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OAZNHYLQY53FQ74OYTGZO5NVPI Aviator

    Ive been using skydrive for quite some time and MS just gave me 25GB free storage.

    • http://www.intrinsicstrategy.com/ FrankCatalano

      Pretty much anyone who has been using it before a certain date in April can “claim” their free 25GB. I hardly ever use it, and did the same. It’s hard to say no to free when the new baseline is 7GB.

  • jennifer john

    Google Drive is billed as “a place where you can create, share, collaborate, and keep all your work.

  • JuanSalcedo

    I personally prefer SugarSync over these two services, I believe it has the most features and apps to connect from different devices, it also has the extra flexibility of not just syncing one folder, but sync any folder in your PC (or Mac). You can sign up with SugarSync using this link and you (and I) will get 500MB extra: https://www.sugarsync.com/referral?rf=ciyvx5sjbhs3r