NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- I guess you could call me The Digital Skeptic. (You'll have to imagine the trademark symbol after that.)
See, during the valuation hype surrounding digital darlings such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, I thought maybe -- just maybe -- someone should be wondering aloud if this whole digital economy thing is not going to pay off.
|No matter how clever Google Drive is, when you take a look at the market you'll see a flood of competition will likely strip it of any real value.|
So I took a flyer and trademarked the term "The Digital Skeptic." It's as good a phrase as I could think of to describe my dim view of the prospects of the digital age. And I sat back and waited for something that called out for a skeptic's view.
Sure enough, this nutty digital age has served up a singularly bizarre business idea: Google (GOOG) Drive, the search giant's online file sharing and syncing tool, which debuted earlier this week.I have spent the past few days testing this service -- you get 5 GB free, and 25 GB costs $30 a year -- that enables sharing and updating of files, photos and other digital information across PCs, Macs and many mobile devices. I have also surveyed the syncing and sharing competition and compared their features. What's the best way to describe Google Drive? "Just like the Loch Ness monster," was the way Sundar Pichai, senior vice president for Chrome and Apps at Google, introduced the service in the company's official blog. Pichai, of course, was referring to the fact that Google Drive has been rumored for years but hadn't yet actually surfaced in techland. Certainly Pachai was joking, but to me, the metaphor is dead on: Google has jumped into a market so flooded with options that it is essentially in no market at all. Makes the Loch Ness monster look logical
I understand why Google felt it had to have some sort of syncing and storage business: Heaven knows how, but storage and syncing have become sexy. Market leader -- and soon-to-be IPO darling -- San Francisco-based Dropbox has been openly taunting Mountain View, Calif.-based Google since back in 2011. It raised a serious war chest of $257.2 million from A-list investors such as Benchmark Capital, Goldman Sachs (GS) and Greylock Partners. That kind of cash, in turn, legitimized a flurry of other syncing and storage wannabes: SugarSync, Box, Wuala and SpiderOak. Tech blue chips followed. Microsoft (MSFT) tweaked its online storage offerings, based around SkyDrive, by adding something called Windows Live Mesh. And of course, there's Apple (AAPL), which just cannot stop hyping its iCloud content-sharing tool.