Two more startups have released services for storing, syncing, and sharing files in the cloud over the past week…but still no sign of Google’s GDrive.
Syncplicity launches today with the same value propositions as SugarSync, which we reviewed in March. Syncplicity can be used not only to automatically back up files from anywhere on your computer but to sync files between computers and share them with friends as well. Its most unique feature is the ability to sync your Microsoft Office documents with Google Docs, as DocSyncer does but both ways (DocSyncer only pushes files to Google).
The other startup is veteran Allmydata, which completely gutted and rebuilt its backup product with the quiet release of version 3.0 last week. The company has mostly abandoned its P2P roots, saving that technology for only server-to-server data transfers. Allmydata users now install a client (Mac or PC) that can be used to set up a virtual drive with unlimited storage for $5/computer. There’s not a whole lot in terms of sharing files with others since it’s primarily meant for personal backup, but a web interface for your files is provided for when you’re on the go.
The online storage space has become very crowded. In addition to the three companies mentioned above, we have also recently seen the launch of Dropbox and HP Upline. These join other startups such as Box.net and Xdrive that have been around for a while, plus the tepid efforts of Microsoft from last Fall.
Through all of this, we have yet to see any real movement from the one company with the clout to dominate and popularize online storage: Google. We’ve been waiting since 2006 for the so-called GDrive (alternatively known as “Platypus” or “My Stuff”) and as recently as this past November there were murmurings from the Wall Street Journal that it was coming in the subsequent months.
But it’s April and there’s still no sign of its arrival. When the WSJ wrote about Google’s plans to “store on its computers essentially all of the files they [consumers] might keep on their personal-computer hard drives”, it noted the possibility that “new developments could lead Google to shift tack or shelve plans for the storage offering in the coming months.”
It would be a shame if that has indeed happened. The coolest thing about Box.net is its OpenBox feature, which allows you to easily load your files from online storage into various web services like Picnik and Zoho. Other services like SugarSync and Syncplicity are also blurring the lines between your personally stored files and those stored on web services. If Google were to provide a “backup” system that essentially integrated your files with its cloud software, we would see an acceleration in the adoption of its software and browser-based applications in general. It would give a huge boost to the Web 2.0 movement, and assuming that Google provides the proper APIs, would create a whole range of new opportunities for startups.
Now that Google has released its App Engine, let’s hope it’s still serious about the utility-like components of cloud computing that can serve consumers directly.