After months of speculation and rumor, Google finally launched its "Drive" service on Tuesday. Possibly fearing the worst, its main competitors smelled an impending launch and upgraded their own services including Dropbox which added sharing files with non-members, and Microsoft's SkyDrive which upgraded existing members to 25 GB while also launching three new paid services.
But with Google Drive now out in the open, the drama hasn't come to a close quite yet. TechNode reports that China has actually blocked the virtual locker for unknown reasons just hours after it went live. It's probably nothing personal, as China also blocks the popular Dropbox service and many others, probably to prevent locals from storing files on Western Internet servers, and to support local cloud storage solutions.
Back in March, Baidu -- China's own Google-like Web giant -- launched a beta cloud service called Wangpan. The beta restricted the number of initial users by offering just 5,000 invites each day on a first-come, first-serve basis. However it now offers 25 GB of free storage to millions of users with options to increase the capacity for free by way of several not-yet-announced options.
There are reports that Baidu will also launch its own device using a forked version of Android called "Yi." The company is working with Foxconn to manufacture the device, and will presumably have built-in support for the Wangpan cloud service. China has more than 500 million Internet users, making it a hugely attractive market locally and abroad.
Sadly, Google Drive didn’t exactly live up to all the previous hype. Essentially Google increased the online capacity of Google Docs from 1 GB to 5 GB, and then renamed the service to Google Drive. The company also replaced the Google Docs Android app with the new Google Drive version much like it did with replacing Android Market with Google Play. The Google Docs url has even been replaced by the new drive.google.com address.
As before, Google Drive allows users to create documents, spreadsheets and other files which in turn can be edited, shared, downloaded and uploaded. But now users have a client they can download and install on their PC which creates a "shared" folder, mimicking Dropbox's own software. Users simply drop files into the folder and they're instantly uploaded to the cloud. A revamped search tool allows users to search for a specific file stored in their virtual locker.
If anything, Google Drive is a clone of Dropbox without the latter's latest public sharing feature. This is what Google Drive really needs rather than limiting users to sharing files via email and Google+. Still, there doesn't seem to be anything for China to fear unless you read Google's terms of service, especially this paragraph:
Your Content in our Services: 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 that we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.
Maybe that's why China blocked Google Drive...