Google Drive offers free content sharing service to mixed reviews

Google is hoping to draw in business users with its new Google Drive cloud storage service, despite mixed reviews from local analysts.


Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice president of Chrome and apps, introduced Google Drive via a company blog post yesterday, describing its current features as “just the beginning”.


“Google Drive [is] a place where you can create, share, collaborate and keep all of your stuff,” Pichai wrote.


“Whether you’re working with a friend on a joint research project, planning a wedding with your fiancé or tracking a budget with roommates, you can do it in Drive.”


“You can upload and access all of your files, including videos, photos, Google Docs, PDFs and beyond… You can get started with 5GB of storage for free.”


According to Ken Hoetmer, product manager of Google’s Sydney team, Google Drive is inextricably linked to Google Docs, which the team has been working on for the last few years.


“Since late 2010, we’ve enabled users to upload any kind of file to Google Docs. Drive builds on that capability but adds technology to view and organise those files on the web,” Hoetmer says.


“Also new in Drive – we’ve created visual thumbnails for all your files, which can be seen in the brand-new ‘grid view’ in Drive.”


“Google Drive also better incorporates the optical character recognition technology that we developed in Sydney and originally launched in 2010.”


“We’ve now extended this technology to search… The capability to search text across PDFs, image files, and other types of files is unique to Google Drive.”


The Sydney team has also started to integrate the technology from Google Image Search and Google Goggles into Drive, so users can search files for images related to a certain keyword.


“The Android app for Google Drive… was also developed in Sydney, as well as the social commenting feature that lets you discuss any Drive file you’ve shared,” Hoetmer says.


But according to Ovum principal analyst Richard Edwards, Google Drive’s “inevitable use within the enterprise” could present chief information officers with some headaches.


“Chances are employees will start using this service to do more than share family photos and recipes,” Edwards says.


“Corporate email systems are notorious for their measly storage quotas and message attachment size limitations.”


“So the sharing and distribution of large corporate files… are an obvious use case for Google Drive.”  


“Concerned with data leakage and the loss of corporate intellectual property, the unsanctioned use of cloud storage services presents a real headache.”


Nevertheless, here are two other free services start-ups should consider:


1. oDesk


oDesk is a global marketplace that helps businesses hire, manage and pay remote freelancers or teams, which means businesses are no longer limited to local talent or traditional hiring cycles.


Users can post a job for free, field applications and hire the best person for the job, regardless of where in the world they happen to be.


Similarly, users looking for work are untethered by geography, so they can find work and get the job done from anywhere. All they need is their talent, a computer and an internet connection.


oDesk also provides a virtual workspace, offering real-time visibility into work as it happens.


Based in California, oDesk was founded in 2003 by Odysseas Tsatalos and Stratis Karamanlakis, based on their own struggles to work simultaneously in different parts of the world.


2. MailChimp


MailChimp is a free email marketing service, enabling users to design, send and track HTML email campaigns, in addition to managing subscriber lists.


It takes a variety of basic and advanced features – such as templates, list segmentation, geo-targeting and ROI tracking – and makes them accessible to the everyday user.


The MailChimp platform uses an open API, and encourages other systems and web applications to integrate with its email-marketing engine.


Currently, it offers integrations with systems such as PayPal, Google Analytics, Shopify, Magento, Salesforce and several others.


Based in Atlanta, MailChimp is led by chief executive Ben Chestnut.


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