File Under: Web Apps, Web Services

Google Cuts Online Storage Pricing, Fuels Anticipation for Cheap Cloud-Based OS

Google has dropped the prices for extra storage space in Gmail and Picasa. Ostensibly the prices have gone down because storage costs have dropped, but it might also be a necessary move anticipating the coming Chrome OS, which will likely need sizable online storage space.

For now, if you need some extra space for your Gmail or Picasa Web Albums, you can get it at a much more reasonable price. You can now buy 20 GB of storage for $5 a year — that’s twice as much storage for a quarter of Google’s old prices.

If that’s not enough, you can pick up 80 GB for $20 a year, 200 GB for $50 a year and so on, all way up to 16 TB of storage for $4096 per year. The Google Accounts page has a full list of pricing and storage options.

Compared to other online storage solutions, like Dropbox, which charges $240 per year for 100 GB, Google’s new pricing looks pretty good. Of course Google’s extra storage doesn’t sync files between computers like Dropbox does, but it might when Google’s Chrome OS finally emerges.

Chrome OS is little more than a vague press release at this point, but based on what we know, Google plans to make Chrome OS a lightweight operating system for netbooks with a strong link to the cloud — think a web browser on top of a bare-bones Linux kernel.

Given the space limitations of netbooks, and Chrome OS’s integration with online Google Services — like Google Docs — it makes sense for Google to offer large amounts of storage on the cheap. In fact, Google wouldn’t be the first to do so. Many netbook makers, like Asus, already offer free online storage in conjunction with the purchase of a netbook.

There’s also, as Google Operating System speculates, the possibility that the storage increase will go toward the long-fabled “GDrive.” According to rumors that have been circulating for years, Google is hard at work on a Dropbox-like, cloud-storage and syncing service. It’s already known Google has a massive storage grid called Platypus which the company uses as its storage back-end for most of its web-based tools.

While there’s no question that such a service would be a huge sell at these prices, GDrive remains a mere rumor, one that, quite frankly, we stopped believing years ago.

There’s no telling what Google plans to do with its additional storage offerings in the future, but at least, for now, you’ve got a much cheaper way to back up all those hi-res photos in Picasa or expand your Gmail account far beyond its current 7+ GB limit.

We should also point out, if you’ve already paid the old prices for additional storage, fear not, Google will automatically bump your storage space. For example, if you paid for 10 GB of storage at the old pricing you should now have 80 GB of storage available.

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