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Google Close to Launching Cloud Storage Service

The Wall Street Journal reports that Google is gearing up to launch a cloud storage service similar to Dropbox and It will be called Google Drive (or simply Drive), and offer both free and paid space for consumers who want to store files online for retrieving on the go with multiple web-connected mobile devices. Compatible file types will include videos, photos and documents.

Insiders close to Google Drive said that users will have the ability to shoot video from their smartphone and upload the file to their virtual locker through Google's Drive mobile app. They will then be able to email friends and family a link back to the video, eliminating the need to send a bulky file. What's unknown at this point is the capacities in which Google will offer, but will likely provide 2 to 5 GB for free to consumers and businesses. Insiders state that Google will charge a fee for those who want to store large amounts of files for a cheaper price than what Dropbox currently requires.

By comparison, Dropbox offers 2 GB of free online storage. However for 50 GB, customers are required to pay $9.99 USD per month. 100 GB of virtual storage costs $19.99 USD per month, and Dropbox even offers larger storage capacities with plans starting at $795 for 5 users. But unlike Google, Dropbox relies on Amazon's Web Services which maintains a network of computers for storing data online. Amazon leases out this space to the likes of Dropbox, Netflix and even Zynga.

Google already offers online storage for free via Google Music and Google Docs. Consumers can store up to 20,000 songs in their virtual music locker. Songs purchased through Android Market can be shared on Google+ -- those uploaded or received for free via Google do not have a sharing option. On Google Docs, users can create documents, store them indefinitely, and either share them via an email link, or email them directly as an actual file.

Additionally, Google customers can shoot photos with their smartphone and upload them to Google+ and Picasa -- sharing simply means sending a link to friends and family. Videos can be uploaded and shared using YouTube with options of going public or remaining private. That said, Google Drive may actually combine at least three of the search engine giant's services on a storage level -- or simply provide a standalone virtual locker for consumers who don't typically use Google+, Google Docs and YouTube.

Sources told the Wall Street Journal that Google Drive is expected to be added to the search engine giant's Google Apps software that's sold to businesses. The service, for both consumers and businesses, should launch within the next couple of weeks or months.