Google One could be Google's way of luring you out of its free cloud storage offering, one perk at a time. This subscription plan from Google, announced Monday, offers new storage tiers for Drive, the ability to share storage with friends, and possibly even the chance to score some free goodies.
Google doesn’t appear to be replacing Google Drive, but rather creating a new structure for files stored in Drive, Gmail, and Google's Photos. The company plans to upgrade paid Drive accounts to Google One subscriptions over the coming months, and the company added that it was working to bring Google One to everyone else later this year.
Google already offers 15GB of Drive storage for free, along with a gigabyte here and there if you participated in some earlier promotions. The first paid tier, 100GB for $1.99/mo, will remain in place—but there will be a new 200GB $2.99/mo tier, according to TechCrunch, plus a 2TB ,$9.99/mo tier.
One of the leaders in bundling services with cloud storage has been Microsoft, whose cheapest Office 365 subscription (Office 365 Personal, at $6.99/mo) pushes the Office 365 app suite, with a terabyte of OneDrive storage tacked on for good measure. But the basic, free OneDrive plan offers just 5GB, and 50GB for $1.99/mo. Dropbox offers 10GB for free, or 100GB for $10/mo. If you simply want online storage, Google’s Drive plans are the better bet, comparatively.
Google offers Docs, Sheets, and Slides as part of its Google Apps, but it can’t quite compete with the depth and breadth of Microsoft's offerings. That may be why it’s going in the direction of sharing and support.
Google One will allow up to five family members to share a One paid plan, with each member receiving their own, private storage space. (It’s not clear how this will be divvied up, or who will have administrative control.)
All members will enjoy the other benefits of Google One, including one-tap access to experts for help with Google’s consumer products and services. You heard right: free tech support. Google apparently wants you to entice your family to join One—but without the dread of having to handle the infamous “family support calls” as a result. Instead, users will be encouraged to contact Google directly.
As Google did when it rolled out its early Chromecasts, One members will also be able to take advantage of discounts, from Google Play credits to hotel deals. It’s possible this could turn into a Google-specific version of Microsoft Rewards.
What this means for you: Essentially, Google One represents a soft expansion of Google’s services, using the honey of support and freebies to secure a long-term commitment to the ecosystem. It’s very possible that Google is also trying to coax users out of the free Google Drive option (remember, if you allow Google to shrink the resolution of your photos, you can store an unlimited amount) and into paid options.
Clarification: The new Google One subscription will house the files used by several Google services, not the services themselves.