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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

When Will Gdrive Be Public (If Ever)?

Within the Gdrive page that surfaced yesterday, there were some references to this being an internal project at Google, for internal uses only. For example, the text was mentioning “Googlers” (Google employees) and a “Google computer” (which sounds like an intranet computer). Also, the text was fairly technical, mentioning e.g. “filer” without further explanations. Mambo in the forum yesterday wrote, “You can tell by the words they use, that Platypus in [is] an inter-Google thing. It’s for the employees.” This would mean that well, this project isn’t for the general public to enjoy, ever.

At the same time, we do know Google has long-term plans to store 100% of user data. To quote from a leaked Google presentation a while ago:

In a world with infinite storage, bandwidth, and CPU power, here’s what we could do with consumer products (...)

Store 100% of User Data

With infinite storage, we can house all user files, including: emails, web history, pictures, bookmarks, etc and make it accessible from anywhere (any device, any platform, etc).

We already have efforts in this direction in terms of GDrive, GDS, Lighthouse, but all of them face bandwidth and storage constraints today. For example: (...) This theme will help us make the client less important (thin client, thick server model) which suits our strength vis-a-vis Microsoft and is also of great value to the user.

As we move toward the “Store 100%” reality, the online copy of your data will become your Golden Copy and your local-machine copy serves more like a cache. An important implication of this theme is that we can make your online copy more secure than it would be on your own machine. Another important implication of this theme is that storing 100% of a user’s data makes each piece of data more valuable because it can be access across applications.

So what are the implications of the Gdrive page now being found online? Nik Cubrilovic over at the Techcrunch comments argues that we don’t have any new indicators on public Gdrive release plans. His theory sounds plausible, and more plausible than some of my own theories yesterday (my emphasis):

What I think has [happened] here is somebody at Writely saved the platypus main page to the server (as indicated by broken image links etc.) for some reason (one reason could be to use it as a template for a new Writely login screen) and somebody just happen to find it.

After all, full Writely integration into the Google system is still missing, but very likely to be something Google worked on the past months since it acquired the tool. Nik says that he doesn’t think finding the frontpage of Platypus “changes much in terms of Google’s timing on launching a service.” And indeed, the problems of bringing a Gdrive-like service to the public – “bandwidth and storage constraints,” as the presentation mentioned – aren’t closer to being solved today than they were a couple of months ago.

Maybe there is a public Gdrive on the horizon but it’s still a few years away, and possibly it’s not closely related to Google’s current Gdrive project?


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