Fuji Xerox links copiers to Google Drive

The Japanese firm's copy machines will be able to upload to or print folders in Google's cloud storage service

Fuji Xerox will soon release software that links its office copiers to the Google Drive online storage service, a sign that the search engine's online business suite is making inroads in Japan.

The new "Print & Scan for Google Drive" extension will offer customers the ability to upgrade their business copiers so they can print items stored in Google Drive, scan documents straight to the online storage service, or have incoming faxes automatically stored to specific online folders. Users will also be able to browse Google Drive folders using the small control screens on copiers.

The service from Fuji Xerox, to go live Jan. 31, is a sign that Google's online services are gradually taking hold in corporate Japan. Other local firms like Softbank's business service arm have embraced Google Apps, the online application suite, as a core offering to customers.

"Japanese firms have hesitated to use cloud services like Google Drive, mainly out of security concerns," said Kazu Satio an analyst at ICT Research in Tokyo. "As established companies like Fuji Xerox offer services with Google Drive, it will become easier for large customers to use the service."

The add-on will cost ¥5,000 (US$56), and doesn't require the use of a PC. Fuji Xerox said it will initially offer it in Japan and other Asia-Pacific countries.

Google offers its apps and storage to private users free of charge, but has gradually strengthened its offering for businesses. Google Apps for Business now costs ¥6,000 per year per user, a fee that provides online mail and office software as well as support guarantees and 5GB of online storage.

Fuji Xerox also offers its own cloud storage service that works with its copiers, called "Working Folder," which stores and organizes documents online. The basic service offers 10GB of storage accessible by up to 10 users for ¥3,500 per month.

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