AOL/AIM users to get 5GB free storage

The one upsmanship in giving away storage continues with an announcement today from AOL that come September the company will provide 5 GB of free storage on the company’s XDrive system to anyone with as little as an AOL or AIM screen name. AOL purchased XDrive last August for an undisclosed sum.

Chris Gilmer over at AOL owned Download Squad reports the service will include permission based file sharing, scheduled automatic backups from your hard drive to Xdrive, automatic upload of e-mail attachments from AOL Mail or any non-AOL POP3 or IMAP-compatible mail providers and a lot more. Perhaps most important – there’s no charge for file transfer.

Apple’s .Mac service starts at 1GB, is upgradeable to 4GB, has a data transfer rate upgradeable up to 250GB per month and isn’t free. A free account with Streamload‘s MediaMax offers 25GB of free storage but has a 1GB monthly transfer limit.

We did a comparison of 13 storage companies in January, but the market just keeps changing. Who will top today’s AOL announcement?

Consumer level data storage seems to be becoming a loss leader and features will likely become the only differentiator if this race for the bottom on price continues. I wonder how many people will make the leap from using this free storage to using other AOL services where they will be more likely to generate meaningful ad revenue. It doesn’t appear that there will be any imperative to do so.

From giving away many previously paid services free to broadband users (yesterday) to hiring away top social bookmarkers (first 10 announced today) and now throwing free storage at anyone who wants it – AOL is certainly making a lot of plays to revive itself. (Update: The company announced today that it will cut approximately 25% of its global workforce by year end.) Apparently creating a blight on the planet with its promotional materials that would be an eyesore from space if put in one pile wasn’t enough, but maybe promotion 2.0 will work better.