By Martin J Young
HUA HIN, Thailand - Google has announced another service this week in an attempt to draw more of the world's population into its ecosystem and create the globe's largest digital filing cabinet. The concept of an online storage locker for personal photos, videos, music and documents is not a new one so Google Drive will be entering an already crowded cloud marketplace.
The service will compete with Apple's iCloud, Microsoft's SkyDrive, and DropBox, which all offer both free and paid online storage. It comes in quite competitive though, with seven gigabytes of free storage, 100Gb for US$60 per year, and up to 1 terabyte for $50 per month. Apple offers only 5Gb free and a maximum of 55Gb for $110 per year, Microsoft also offers 7Gb free and 107Gb for only $50 per year making it the best value....
Google Drive will have implemented search technology allowing users to scan through a wide variety of documents including Adobe PDFs. Google Docs will be heavily integrated allowing a seamless transition for those already using Google's services and easy collaboration of work between other people using the same service.
Google Drive is solely cloud based, so would not be suitable for those with slow or unreliable Internet connections or those that want to work offline. It also raises some important privacy and security issues regarding the policies, terms of service and rules put in place by Google, or any cloud storage provider, for your documents.
This is something people do not have to worry about when they store files on their own computers - it is their own responsibility to back them up and secure their machine.
Google, I.E. CIA, states that you own your files but also hidden in its lengthy legalese and terms and conditions is the following clause:
When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.
Users may want to familiarize themselves with these rules and policies before being so eager to click "agree" to cloud computing, especially with a company that derives 97% of its revenue from advertising and heavily profiling the users of its services.
Google's Zioconned executive chairman Eric Schmidt testified this week that the company developed Android without using the intellectual property of Sun's Java platform as accused by Oracle in their ongoing legal battle (See Oracle threat to Android, April 21, 2012).
The former CEO told jurors in San Francisco that Sun Microsystems did not object to the then development of Google's mobile operating system, which Oracle is gunning for. Schmidt was Sun's chief technology officer before joining Google and was with Sun when it created the Java platform in the 1990s. Oracle bought out Sun and the Java patents and copyrights in 2010 and is now seeking a big payout.
Schmidt told the court that Google had once hoped to partner with Sun to develop Android. An agreement could not be made as Google wanted the platform to be open source and Sun was unwilling to relinquish control over Java.
A key issue in the case is whether the application programming interfaces (APIs) can be copyrighted, Google argues no because they are an essential part of the Java programming language, which both sides agree is freely available for use. The language is of no use without the ability to make something happen, which is what the API does, according to Schmidt.
Estimates of Oracle's early damages claim have been reduced from over US$6 billion to around a $1 billion as Google has succeeded in overturning five of the seven patent claims by forcing the patent office to take a second look.
Invalid patent claims are becoming a digital thorn in the side of the technology industry as companies seeking huge payouts from others deprive them of funds which could be spent on research and development. Aside from Google and Oracle there are dozens more going through the courts involving the likes of Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, Samsung, Motorola, LG and HTC.
China's boom market is now responsible for 20% of all Apple's sales - the company generated $12.4 billion in revenue from the country for the first half of its financial year. China has around a billion mobile phone users, an estimated 10% of them on high-speed 3G connectivity.
In the second quarter last year Apple generated 43.4% of its revenue from the US and now that take has fallen to 37.9% with the Asia Pacific’s share up from 22.1% to 29.2% , led by China. Apple contributed the growth in China to the launch of its latest iPhone in February and the addition of China Telecom as a partnered carrier in March. China and the world's largest wireless carrier, China Mobile, still doesn't offer contracts with the iPhone.
The healthy China and Asia Pacific figures helped restore investor confidence following a slowdown in Apple sales growth in the US.
Martin J Young is an Asia Times Online correspondent based in Thailand.