Google aims to become the biggest holder of digital data in the world
The Times, 28th November 2007
Google is expected to launch an online information storage service in an attempt to become the central depository for the world’s digital data.
Its new data storage facility – code-named “GDrive” – would allow users to store digital files such as music tracks and photographs on the internet and access them through any web browser.
The move will escalate the rivalry between Microsoft and Google over how best to steward the explosion in domestic digital data. Analysts agree that answers are needed to consumers’ data problems, ranging from how to keep highly sensitive information secure to avoiding the loss of holiday photographs. It is estimated, for instance, that more than 270 billion digital photos will be taken this year.
In January, Microsoft announced a hardware-based solution with its Home Server platform, a scaled-down version of the servers that companies use to store data.
A spokesman for Google, the dominant force in internet advertising, refused to be drawn on speculation that the company will release a rival web-based system in a matter of weeks. However, he did say: "Storage is an important component of making web applications fit easily into consumers’ and business users’ lives."
Last year Google inadvertently leaked an internal memo that made plain the scale of its ambitions over online data storage – a strategy that would apparently make computer hard drives all but defunct.
"With infinite storage, we can house all user files, including e-mails, web history, pictures, bookmarks, etc and make it accessible from anywhere [any device, any platform, etc]," the document said.
Privacy activists are expected to complain that Google already has access to too much information and any new data storage service would be launched into a freshly febrile atmosphere. Fears over data security soared last week when the Government lost personal details of 25 million Britons in the post.
However, Google insisted that the public would trade access to some of its information for improved online services, such as adverts targeted to an individual’s interests.
Executives at Microsoft will also be wary of Google’s plans. Analysts have argued that the long-anticipated GDrive system will make it easier for users to abandon Windows, Microsoft’s dominant operating system.
— Separately, Google said yesterday that it was ready to spend hundreds of millions of dollars developing a range of green technologies, including solar and wind power, as part of a push into the renewable energy market. A spokesman said that the company was optimistic that a green technology that could produce electricity more cheaply than coal could be developed “within years, not decades”.
cost of a 1-terabyte (1,000-gigabyte) hard drive by 2010, according to Microsoft
digital photos will be taken this year
number of users of Gmail, Google’s e-mail service, in which stored messages are scanned for keywords to allow the delivery of targeted ads
Source: Times database