Google's introduction of free online storage for any type of file serves as a reminder that storing a gigabyte of data in the Internet cloud can vary in price from free to US$3.50 per, and that's just what Google charges its customers.
In a move that makes it seem like some part of Google (beside the Nexus One folks) live in a perpetual fog, the company announced that extra gigabytes for its new 1GB free "store anything" accounts will cost 25-cents per gigabyte per year. The same gigabyte for a US$50-a-year Google Apps Premium Edition customer will cost US$3.50.
You'd think it would be the other way 'round, wouldn't you? And, no, I have no idea how Google thinks it can justify the price difference.
Meanwhile, Google's generosity in offering a free gigabyte of cloud storage is matched 25 times over by Microsoft. It's free SkyDrive service gives 25GB storage to anyone who signs up.
Both companies tout their free storage as a boon to business users, who can share information with colleagues and stop having to e-mail files to themselves. Online storage could also be an antidote to the ubiquitous thumb drive, though only if you are assured of always having a broadband connection available.
My colleague Jeff Bertolucci wrote a story comparing other online storage options, including Dropbox, Box.net, and several Microsoft options.
Google also announced that third-party applications, such as Memeo Connect for Google Apps will provide a desktop connection and file conversion for Google Apps Premier Edition customers. The service, priced at $9-per-user/year, will be available for PC and Mac users on Jan. 18.
People are saying Google is heating up the battle for supremacy in cloud computing, but if this is how Google intends to beat Microsoft, it still has some thinking to do.