I just came across an article from the Wall Street Journal about Google’s plan to offer consumers a service to store their personal data files. I’m pretty excited about this, and so should you, for several reasons.
First, mass data storage is getting cheaper and cheaper, but to really push prices down, it takes the economies of scale a company like Google or Amazon can get by combining thousands of users’ storage needs into a single service. Providing a service like this will decrease the total cost per gigabyte to even lower levels, which theoretically could make it cheaper to sign up and pay for a service like this than to go out and buy a hard drive.
Second, Google usually does services right (not always, but usually). It looks like they have an eye towards consumers, rather than businesses (like Amazon’s S3 service), which will, hopefully, mean good integration with your desktop. I sincerely hope to see a tightly integrated OS setup where users can treat their Google storage service as “just another hard drive” on their computer. I’d really rather not see some cumbersome client software you have to download, but rather a network share on your computer.
Third, and most important (to me at least), is the freedom from worrying about backups, redundancy, and scaling. More and more, I’m watching movies and TV shows on my computer or home entertainment system via iTunes and similar services, and my storage requirements are expanding rapidly. There will be a time in the very near future where I’ll need a terabyte or multiple terabytes to store my movies and TV shows for access, rather than as DVDs. And I’m not alone: many people are doing just this, as everything becomes digitized and always available.
Anyway, it’s all still very early to get too excited about this service, but I really hope Google does this one right. Keep it simple, no client software, cross-platform, and as cheap as possible is the way to win consumers here; and I know that now – and in the future – people’s storage requirements are just going to increase.