Sunday, May 22, 2011

How Google Docs Killed GDrive

"In The Plex", Steven Levy's recently launched book about Google, has an attractive story about GDrive, an online storage service urbanized by Google. People first found about GDrive from a leaked Google document, back in 2006. GDrive (or Platypus) turned out to be a service used by Google employees that offered many imposing features: syncing files, viewing files on the Web, shared spaces for collaborating on a document, offline access, local IO speeds. But Google required to launch GDrive for everyone.

At the time [2008], Google was about to launch a project it had been mounting for more than a year, a free cloud-based storage service called GDrive. But Sundar [Pichai] had finished that it was an artifact of the style of computing that Google was about to usher out the door. He went to Bradley Horowitz, the executive in charge of the project, and said, "I don't think we need GDrive anymore." Horowitz asked why not. "Files are so 1990," said Pichai. "I don't think we need files anymore."

Horowitz was stunned. "Not need files anymore?"

"Think about it," said Pichai. "You just want to get in order into the cloud. When people use our Google Docs, there are no more files. You just start restriction in the cloud, and there's never a file."

When Pichai first proposed this concept to Google's top executives at a GPS—no files!—the reaction was, he says, "skeptical." [Linus] Upson had one more characterization: "It was a withering assault." But finally they won people over by a logical argument—that it could be done, that it was the cloudlike thing to do, that it was the Google thing to do. That was the end of GDrive: shuttered as a relic of obsolete thinking even before Google released it. The engineers operational on it went to the Chrome team.

In 2009, Google Docs in progress to store PDF files and one year later you could store any type of file in Google Docs. The service still doesn't offer a way to sync files. Even if GDrive was never released, Google Docs inherits most of its features. The main difference is that you no longer have to be troubled about file formats because you can open and edit documents in Google Docs.

No comments:

Post a Comment