How Google Drive Could Become a Huge Success, Redux

A hundred years ago—and by that I mean last December—I wrote a guest post on Mashable with my thoughts on how Google Drive could become a huge success. Since a launch is rumored to be imminent, I thought I’d revisit those suggestions so we can see how they play out:

Google Workspace users are already using a “Google Drive”—keep it intact
The point here is that people already store lots of “non-native” files (e.g., Microsoft Office docs, PDF’s, videos, music, etc) in Google Docs, and there are lots of third-party products that integrate with Google Docs as a place to store these files. Google needs to make sure that nothing fundamental changes with the way all that works. Otherwise, they’re going to have lots of unhappy users.

Simple desktop-cloud-mobile sync that “just works”
I’m a huge Dropbox fan, but I never ever use its web interface. I just copy files in and out of my Dropbox folder on my Mac, as do the people I share files with. It just works. And when I open the Dropbox app on my iPhone or iPad, all my stuff is just there. If Google wants to win in this space, their sync stuff better work just as well. All that stands between success and failure here is a few HTTP 500 errors.

Google+ integration for consumers, Google Workspace integration for business users
This is a tricky one, but one I think Google needs to get right. Google’s consumer world is all about Google+ these days, and I’d be surprised if they released Google Drive without some sort of awesome integration into it—sharing files with your circles, for instance. But at the same time, business users of Google Workspace need to share files within their organizations, with access control lists that are aware of Apps groups (e.g., Sales or Marketing).

The complexity here goes toward a larger problem Google is facing: how to unify how consumers and business customers manage groups of contacts. I’m not sure Google will have the Right Solution in place in time for the release of Google Drive, but it sure would help ease adoption.

Picasa, Google+ Photos, and Google Music integration
I use Dropbox to share not only work documents, but also music and photos. For the same seamless experience, Google needs to integrate the sharing functions of their own music and photo applications into Google Drive. Otherwise, it’s going to be a mess trying to figure out how to share what. I expect Google to get this right, and for it to be a big shot in the arm for Google+ Photos and Google Music. (But don’t make me sync my whole Google Music library to my laptop—that’s what the cloud is for!)

More free storage and cheap additional storage
All of these features aside, there’s one thing on everyone’s mind: cost. Dropbox includes 2GB for free. Google Drive is rumored to include 5GB, which would be enough to be compelling. But Google has an opportunity to absolutely cream Dropbox on pricing for extra storage. $100 buys you 50GB on Dropbox or 400GB on Google Docs—8x as much storage for the same price. $200 buys you 100GB on Dropbox, while $256 you can get a full terabyte from Google. If Google leaves their prices for additional storage unchanged, they’ll undercut Dropbox almost by a factor of ten. Game over.

(Google also needs to let Apps users upgrade to higher storage tiers, which we can’t do today.)

So there are my recommendations. If and when Google releases Drive, we’ll see how many of them they followed. And you can be sure that Spanning will be releasing tools that make Google Drive even better. Stay tuned.