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Google Evolves Docs Into Online Storage, May Pull Out of China

Gordon Kelly by

Google Evolves Docs Into Online Storage, May Pull Out of China

Google has had something of a hard week with the technical problems that have beset the launch of its Nexus One smartphone. Though two moves today may have restored some lost goodwill...

Firstly, and less controversially, Google has expanded Docs to enable users to store any type of file. 1GB will be provided free with an annual cost of $0.25 for every additional gigabyte you require and individual files up to 250MB are supported. Uploaded files can also be organised into folders, shared and are searchable.

Google denies this turns Docs into the fabled GDrive many have long waited for and in truth - while useful - it doesn't offer the same seamless operation existing services like Dropbox which also provides 2GB of storage for free. Still, it is hard to see this as anything other than a good thing.

Equally the same could be said of a bold rethink Google has announced regarding China. Citing both a wave of China-originated attacks on its service and the censorship of its Google.cn search engine, Google SVP of Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond (picture courtesy of Brian Powers, Western Integrated Media) has said things must change.

"We launched Google.cn in January 2006 in the belief that the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweighed our discomfort in agreeing to censor some results," he explained. "At the time we made clear that "we will carefully monitor conditions in China, including new laws and other restrictions on our services. If we determine that we are unable to achieve the objectives outlined we will not hesitate to reconsider our approach to China."

"These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered--combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web--have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China," he continued. "We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China."

I'll steer clear of the politics here and just say I can see Google's point of view. Let's hope an unfiltered search engine can be agreed upon, but it seems very doubtful.

Links:

via Google Docs Official Blog

China decision via Google Official Blog

Go to comments

FreQ

January 13, 2010, 8:21 am

It's a shame because I'd like to see a more open China - and I hope they do reach an agreement to run the site uncensored. It would benefit the people not to have cotton wool wrapped around them.


Saying that, it's unlikely to happen. We need big coorporations like Google to stand up at those times. Anything else is just small fry to such a booming economy.

jingyeow

January 13, 2010, 1:39 pm

The China issue is very difficult. Google has to both respect a country's sovereign rights, whilst at the same time universalising business practice across all your operations.





Onto Google, I wish they would universalise storage across all their products. I mean I have 8gb of free email storage with them, but to be honest, as someone who is using 0% of that, I would prefer to have my Picasa web albums storage increased by at least 6gb. 1gb for photos isn't that much.

xbrumster

January 13, 2010, 2:03 pm

China to open up because Google threatens to quit? They dont give a fuss. Google is not even the most popular search engine there.

PGrGr

January 13, 2010, 2:13 pm

Thank God that big business is prepared to stand up to China's oppressive regime. It's clear that the governments of the world's democratic countries have failed to do this. Do no evil, indeed!

WyWyWyWy

January 13, 2010, 2:17 pm

I can't help but think that Google is to lose a big slice of the pie if they pull out. And China wouldn't even care if they do, as Google is far from being the #1 search engine in China.

jingyeow

January 13, 2010, 2:57 pm

Just read the Google Blog, and it seems the reasons for pulling out are much more sinister than first thought.

Peter

January 13, 2010, 3:19 pm

http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/ Ahem.... :) Monitor that folks....

lifethroughalens

January 13, 2010, 5:50 pm

@Bluepork





"Thank God that big business is prepared to stand up to China's oppressive regime"





I don't know what God's got to do with it. If big businesses like Google placed any moral value at all on who's money it takes, it would never have entered in to China in the first place. Capitalism has no morals - the Olympic games held in China - market share!





There is definitely a lot more at play here.

Smithfield Building

January 13, 2010, 7:30 pm

@lifethroughalens





Your comment suggests that the Chinese people should suffer as a consequence of their Government's attitude and actions. Like Google said: "the belief that the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweighed our discomfort in agreeing to censor some results."





Perhaps the ability of the Chinese public to access more information than ever before was a beneficial project, because with Google.cn or without, they wouldn't have had access to info like human rights records etc.

MrGodfrey

January 13, 2010, 8:18 pm

Smithfield - I don't think lifethroughalens was suggesting that at all. I think he was simply observing that Google's motives for pulling out of China, just like their motives for going in, may not have been entirely philanthropic.





Incidentally, the Chinese people DO suffer as a consequence of their Government's actions. Every day. And while you are right that Google and other services may have been in many ways beneficial for freedom of speech and information, please see the Google blog as mentioned by darkspark88 - those same services are now being exploited (almost certainly by the Chinese government) to track down human rights activists and suppress freedom of speech and information.

lifethroughalens

January 13, 2010, 9:49 pm

@ Smithfield & MrGodfrey





MrGodfrey's interpretation of my comment was as I intended to imply. Google is not a privately funded NGO nor a non for profit charity. It's operates within the free market and the bottom line and driving force is profit. Moral stand-offs are few an far between in that arena.





Allegedly, the Chinese government is being indirectly accused ('...state sponsored attacks...') by Google (the US government are non too happy either) of committing industrial espionage and attempting to steal IP from several Silicon Valley companies and hack mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. These allegations are nothing new for the Chinese authorities, and I suspect that industrial espionage on this level is pretty common place among all technologically advanced nations. It is my opinion that this will become a more important and prevalent, yet mainly unreported battle field of the future.





There's always a lot of unseen political activity between the US and China (Recent Taiwanese purchase of US weaponry really rattled the Chinese government), and this current Google situation does appear to be more of a political pawn in a bigger play.





http://www.pcworld.com/busines...





Nothing like side stepping the politics! One thing's for sure - there will {i}Never{/i} be a free and uncensored Google search engine in China. And I suspect that Google knew this from the start. (Allegedly and in my opinion!)

AlexRat

January 13, 2010, 11:26 pm

"it doesn't offer the same seamless operation existing services like Dropbox which also provides 2GB of storage for free"





2GB? I laugh at your 2GB! *comic-book bad-guy laugh* Mesh.com = 5GB

Jay4d0

January 14, 2010, 3:08 am

@ AlexRat: mesh is the best in my opinion too even works on a mac!


but if you just want plain cloud storage SkyDrive is pretty good too @ 25Gb

rav

January 14, 2010, 4:36 am

I've used Mesh and Dropbox and definitely prefer the latter for ease of use and reliability. The web interface for Dropbox is also way better. Just wish they'd sort out an iPhone app. You can also get the space up to 5GB by referring mates.

finklemiss

January 16, 2010, 3:27 am

I already pay for 20GB extra Google storage ($5/yr). I pay to use it with Picasa Web. I only use 5-6GB of it so I do hope that I will be able to share all that available storage across with Google Docs as well.

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