Google Drive: What we know so far

We have all the ingredients for a great story: dramatic predictions of Google taking over the world, secret disclosures of a new stealth product at a Google analyst meeting, outing of the story by bloggers, and subsequent purging of the public data by Google to keep things hidden from the public and competitors.

Here’s what we know so far:

Epic 2015 – Prediction of Google Control Over Our Lives

In the spring of 2004 Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson presented the ominous Epic 2014 (now renamed Epic 2015) that ultimately predicts that Google will force the New York Times to shut down. In the movie, they also predict that Google will launch something called “Google Grid”: “…a universal platform offering an unlimited amount of space and bandwidth that can be used to store anything. It allows users to manage their information two ways: store it privately or publish it to the entire grid.” See the movie here.

Google Drive Discussion with Analysts

Robin and Matt’s Google Grid prediction seems to be well on its way to becoming reality. On March 2, 2006 (a few days ago), Google hosted an analyst day and presented a wide range of information on new products and strategies. Among the information was a description of the upcoming “Google Drive”, a place for users to store 100% of their data online.

On page 19 of the presentation, Google stated the following:

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: Firefox team is working on server side stored state but they want to store only URLs rather than complete web pages for storage reasons. 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. For example: a user’s Orkut profile has more value when it’s accessible from Gmail (as addressbook), Lighthouse (as access list), etc.

These slides were also made publicly available.

Greg Linden Discovers Google Drive; Google Purges Information

However, the slides discussing Google Drive were quickly taken down by Google and replaced with a sterilized version after entrepreneur and blogger Greg Linden noted the Google Drive information and blogged about it.

Greg did not retain a copy of the original, but readers of his blog did and posted the original content in the comments to Greg’s post.

What we Know

At this point, all we know is that Google is already developing Google Drive, an online storage service that will be designed to store all of our data and make it accessible from various devices. No word on pricing. As to timing, Google is concerned with storage and bandwidth constraints that exist today, and so this may still be far into the future.

Even so, the thought of Google entereing the market must give the online storage startup gang a shudder.

A final thought on Google Drive: Information was clearly purged from analyst materials (unless this is an elaborate hoax by Greg and his readers), meaning we have selective disclosure of this information. Some people received it but it is not generally available to the public. I don’t like this. In fact, I think it’s Gevil. Now that some people know about it, Google should put it (back) up on the web.