Game over. Google is now the master of the consumer cloud. The knockout punch was the successful deployment of Google Drive. Barely two years old, Google Drive has revolutionized the consumer and small-business cloud beyond recognition.

The Dropbox cloud

Dropbox was the first reigning champion of the consumer cloud. Launched in 2008, Dropbox was an incredible leap forward. Just this past November, Dropbox announced that it hit 200 million users. There will always be a need to store data files in the cloud, and Dropbox has a proven track record.

But Dropbox never took the consumer cloud to the next level. They never became a Software as a Service (SaaS); they remained a virtual drop box for most people, no matter what features they’ve recently added.

When I used Dropbox in my last job, I thought it was an advantage being able to use Microsoft Word in a shared environment, until two of us opened the same file at the same time and things got tricky. Even if Dropbox fixed this issue, it allowed tens of millions of people to check out Google Drive and see how things worked on the other side.

The move to Google Drive

When I moved to Google Drive last summer, it was a bit of shock. I hadn’t used any word processor besides Word since WordPerfect in the 1980s. The Google Docs editor gets right to the point. It doesn’t pretend to be capable of servicing law firms and advertising agencies. To paraphrase the old Miller Lite commercial, Google Docs is everything you always wanted in an editor. And less.

My spreadsheet needs are even more basic than my document-editing needs, and Google Docs does it fine. I just don’t need 99 percent of Microsoft Excel’s features. Microsoft Office costs $69.99 to $99.99 for personal and family editions. With Google, $99 gets you 10 terabytes, and their SaaS software is free.

Gmail, the gateway drug

Every Gmail user is a potential Google consumer cloud user. Unless you live in a cave, you probably have a Gmail account. Gmail and every Google service are all gateway drugs for the Google consumer cloud. In ancient times, every road led to Rome; in modern times, every online road leads to the Google cloud. Google offers too many free services to count, and they are all ways to hop onboard.

Eventually, Gmail might just woo you into other Google apps. I myself made the move from Dropbox to Google Drive. Sure, Dropbox uploads might be a little bit faster. But the appeal of having everything in the same ecosystem won out.

The GB threshold for cloud moves

The more gigabytes of data you upload to the Google cloud, the higher your threshold for moving to another consumer cloud. That’s why Google recently raised the free limit from 5GB to 15GB. It’s one thing to re-upload 4GB of data to a competing cloud, and another to re-upload 15GB.

Think of the 20-minute form you fill out on a new social network. When you’re done, you can spend an evening uploading photos and filling out endless text boxes. When I read about “the next big social network,” I think of the time it will take me to migrate my life info to it, and I usually pass.

The Google marketing team knows exactly what they’re doing by giving away free cloud space. Expect them to raise it every so often. Like the Hotel California, you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

Game, set, match: Google

There will always be competitors to the Google consumer cloud, but it will be nearly impossible to beat it. An investor with a few hundred million dollars will have an easier time building a fleet of cruise ships to compete with Carnival and Royal Caribbean. If you thought it was dangerous for Google to control our Internet search habits, today Google owns our online lives. And they will for the foreseeable future.

Kenny Sahr is marketing director at BYOD solution Nubo. Reach him @kennysahr.



8 comments
Miles Bossons
Miles Bossons

Google Drive is incredibly limited. File/folder structure sharing is a joke and permissions are terrible. Never mind that it's online only.

In our business we use dropbox and Gdrive side by side. Gdrive is for collaboration - and there's nothing better! - but once we're done working on a document it gets upgraded to a real file in a real organization.

It fills the collaboration gap and has little value beyond that. Gmail isn't a gateway, everyone logs in with a secondary business google account anyway. Could have been any service, that it's google is moot.

desert dawg
desert dawg

Wow, what a one-sided opinion. Trying to kiss the almighty G's butt so they'll acquire you company?

Gdrive isn't bad, but I MUCH prefer Dropbox, Box, or OneDrive. I don't trust Google not to start scanning my documents to serve ads like the do with Gmail. I'd rather pay more than see ads.

You assume everyone has a need to collaborate on docs in real time. Never have I had the need in business or personal life. And Microsoft's online versions of Office apps are far superior to Google Docs.

You're entitled to your opinion but please don't present it as fact.

nohorse
nohorse

This is an incredibility myopic and sensationalized post.  Inaccurate as well: Google Docs has been around from 2010 and was re-branded in 2012 as Drive.  But you could share & save docs for the last 4 years.  You seem happy to use feature poor substitutes for Office and I know many small business that do, but there are plenty of other folks who do need a more complete platform.  Google docs is a walled garden and not very compatible with most existing on-site IT infrastructure for groups and permissions. And it's certainly a security hole.  There are many fine competing products that solve many of these issues.  The race for the cloud is far from over and there is absolutely no clear winner.  In my opinion google is really limiting themselves by not support more of the enterprise and more platforms.  If you are looking for lick, you likely got 'em.  I'd prefer more useful information and less opinion, but i suppose this is really an opinion piece.

BruceK
BruceK

I still don't feel like using Google Drive for much of anything. It is a last resort, due to privacy issues. I also don't love their apps very much. Typical Google clunkiness.

asghhh
asghhh

 6th Paragraph. "Microsoft Office costs $69.99 to $99.99 for personal and family editions. With Google, $99 gets you 10 terabytes, and their SaaS software is free."


Incorrect. $99 a MONTH gets you 10TB.

Krinos
Krinos

I don't understand, did you completely forget about Microsoft somehow?  Onedrive, Office Online, Outlook, Onenote, all free, available across all major platforms.  Plus with strong roots in the enterprise sector to anchor costs of the service, currently sitting in second place behind Amazon for cloud services with the highest rate of growth(https://www.srgresearch.com/articles/microsoft-pulling-ahead-pack-chasing-amazon).

Dreyfus2
Dreyfus2

Well, depends on the definition of winning. All this goodness is solely financed by ads and should give intelligent people a reason to pause. There is no such thing as privacy in Googleland, and even if I would trust Page et al, who will own this data tomorrow?

I stay away from everything Google and everything free, except for open websites and a few RSS feeds. I would trust an ad company with my data as much as I would trust my health insurance on deciding when to turn off life support.

Miles Bossons
Miles Bossons

Business users pay for it, so it's not just ad driven.

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