From what I have read, it appears to be a quite useful and powerful tool that binds the Google App suite together. It will be great for people who enjoy working within Google Docs and collaborate with a team. It will also be great for people who want a simple way to backup their files to a system that’s easily accessible to them.
In Om Malik’s write-up about the service, he includes this quote from Sundar Pichar, SVP of Chrome and Apps:
In this post-PC world the file systems don’t matter.
Instead, what matters is data, which follows the flow from apps to devices. Pichar says that the key here is to provide context and add contours to all the information stored inside the Drive.
When people say the term “post-PC,” I tend to think about Steve Jobs introducing the iPad to the world, and people will quickly be comparing Google Drive to iCloud. The two services have the same mission, eliminate the need for local storage, but they have two opposing philosophies on how to approach that mission.
Apple attaches your data to an app, trapping it within that world. Your iCloud data is not accessible outside of that app (i.e. this document I’m writing in Byword can’t be accessed by Pages without exporting and then re-importing it from Pages), and there is no way to collaborate with a file in iCloud with a team (unless you have the same Apple ID on each machine). In addition, it is only accessible through apps in the Mac/iOS ecosystem – Windows, Linux, Android, are out of luck.
Google attaches your data to your account, and will be accessible by any device through the web. Data is independent of both app and device, unless it is associated with a certain app (a Google Doc can only be edited within Google Docs). This allows for easy exportation of data and importing it into a new system (setup Google Drive on a new computer, download the files you want, copy to the main drive, and remove Google Drive from the system).
Some people are going to speak out about not trusting Google with their data, but I believe they are taking the right approach with this. How I access my data and how I want to share (if I want to) should be up to me, not some app or company. With accessibility in the user’s control, other products can be developed to display your data in different and better ways. An interesting example that I discovered yesterday while reading about Google Drive is Primadesk.
Primadesk allows you to access your data in 31 different services, including Facebook, Dropbox, Box, Gmail, Skydrive, etc. You can backup your data to the Primadesk servers, as well. With not too much hassle, you can easily move all of your Box files to Dropbox, and presumably in the near future, move all your Dropbox files to Google Drive. A service like Primadesk allows you to get around some of those limitations that are in place with cloud services (file size, capacity, bandwidth caps), and it is accessible via dedicated apps, as well.
After all my reading about Google Drive, my mind drifts to three thoughts:
1. Will Apple crack and open up access to iCloud to other devices (non-iOS/Mac), and allow apps to share iCloud data in the future?
2. How will Google Drive be tied into Google Project Glass (the eyeglasses)? Will I be able to view my files within the glasses, view an old picture of a location or do a quick search and discover I didn’t take a picture of the Eiffel Tower last time I was in Paris?
3. What new kinds of applications will be able to be developed using Google Drive’s API?
I am starting to think that the future is just getting started.