Google Reportedly Building Cloud Storage Service to Rival Dropbox

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Kimihiro Hoshino / Getty Images

It appears that Google’s long-rumored cloud storage service, Google Drive, might finally be ready to hit the market. The Wall Street Journal, who cites “people familiar with the matter,” says the service will work somewhat like its soon-to-be rival Dropbox in that users will get a certain amount of storage space for free and will most likely be able to pay to upgrade their accounts.

The biggest surprise about the move is that it’s only happening now. Google has significant advantages over other cloud storage services in that it already has a plethora of free, streamlined services that can be integrated into Google Drive. It’s likely that Google’s move to condense its privacy policies and integrate data sharing between services starting on March 1 might have something to do with the timing.

(MORE: The Basics Behind Google’s New Privacy Policies)

For example, users can automatically upload photos from their Android phones to a private Google+ album, making sharing photos a lot easier. It’s not hard to envision a system where a Google Drive mobile app lets you instantly upload all of your videos, photos and other documents directly from your phone to your Drive account.

So, how worried should Dropbox be? Very. It currently offers 2GB for free, charging $9.99 per month for a Pro 50 account with 50GB of data.

It’s hard to imagine that Google, an Internet Goliath compared to Dropbox’s David, won’t be able to compete with those prices. It already offers plenty of free cloud storage in the form of Picasa, Gmail and Google Docs, which, by the way, can be upgraded already to 20GB of shared data for $5 per year.

Unless Google botches the interface, it’s hard to see how this will fail. That is, of course, until we consider the privacy question. How is Google able to offer so many great services for free? It scans your data and targets ads to you.

Will Google be content with the Dropbox model, where the money is made off of upgraded accounts? Or will it scan documents in your Google Drive account to creat targeted ads?

Still, seeing as how many people use Gmail despite Google’s invasive ad system, its hard to see how Drive won’t be a force to be reckoned with.

(MORE: Would You Give Up Your Internet Privacy to Google for $25?)