Google launches Dropbox competitor

April 24, 2012: 1:58 PM ET

If Google's new service sounds a lot like what's already available from companies like Dropbox, that's because it is nearly identical.

GoogleFORTUNE -- After months of speculation, Google (GOOG) has finally unveiled its very own file sharing service, Google Drive.

In a blog post Tuesday morning, the search company called the new product "a place where you can create, share, collaborate, and keep all of your stuff." The "stuff" Google is referring to are all kinds of files -- videos, photos, documents, PDFs and the like. Users will now be able to upload pictures or spreadsheets to Google Drive and share them with a link, instead of sending a bulky file. They can also access their files from an app available on Android phones and tablets. A version for Apple's (AAPL) iOS is in the works, as well.

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If this sounds a lot like what's already available from companies like Dropbox, that's because it is almost exactly the same. The difference is that Google already has Google Docs -- which will be built right into Drive -- and that it is offering its service for less money. Users can get up to five gigabytes of storage for free, and a whopping 100 gigabytes for $4.99 a month. Dropbox charges $19.99 per month for the same amount of storage.

But that doesn't mean Google Drive will kill off Dropbox, Box, SugarSync or any other player in the hotly-contested and fast-growing market for cloud storage services. Each of these companies is trying to carve out their own niche, and some have already managed to generate lots of traction, either with consumers or corporate users or both. Drive along the 101 freeway in the Silicon Valley and you'll see the billboard wars these companies have been waging. (SugarSync's new ad boasts "because your cloud shouldn't have to fit in a dropbox.")

As the lines blur between consumer and enterprise offerings, corporate-focused services are also competing for the same users. In the days leading up to Google's announcement, enterprise-geared companies like IntraLinks and Egnyte have reached out to the press with their own preemptive commentary on the upcoming service. "The race to the bottom on price, value and simplicity will brightly contrast business focused products that offer security, scalability, IT controls and in our case, the benefits of a hybrid cloud based solution," Vineet Jain, the CEO of enterprise file-sharing startup Egnyte said in a prepared statement.

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Despite being a little late to the game, Google is serious about the enterprise -- it's made that evident with its efforts to push Google Apps and Android into the workplace. And the company's sheer size, ability to cut pricing and the widespread use of Google Docs, Gmail and other applications will likely help make Google Drive an attractive offering both in and outside the office. Let the cloud storage wars begin. Again.

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About This Author
Michal Lev-Ram
Michal Lev-Ram
Writer, Fortune

Based in Silicon Valley, Michal Lev-Ram covers enterprise and mobile technologies for FORTUNE. Prior to joining FORTUNE, she wrote for CNNMoney, Fast Company, Popular Science and other business and technology publications. She was also a staff writer at Business 2.0 and holds a B.A. in journalism from San Francisco State University.

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