Maybe it's time for a new reality show: Virtual Storage Wars. Google's Drive has been vying for lead with Microsoft
's SkyDrive, taking on the industry leader, Dropbox, and other rivals such as Mozi. And now, Verizon Wireless has entered the fray with its Verizon Cloud, available as of Friday, for Apple's iOS devices and select Android-based smartphones.
According to the nation's top carrier, Verizon Cloud promises to keep your digital lives connected, even when real life has you on the go. Verizon says its new secure storage service is designed to sync and save important photos, videos, contacts, music, call logs and even text message.
Megabytes, Not Gigabytes
Verizon Cloud is available free from Apple's App Store as well as Google Play for tablets and smartphones. A desktop app can be downloaded from VerizonWireless.com.
Compatible mobile devices include Samsung's brand spanking new Galaxy S IV, the HTC Thunderbolt, and three models of Motorola's Droid, as well as three Samsung and two Motorola tablets. Apple phones must run iOS 5 or later, but no iPad support yet. If you're a Verizon subscriber, you get 500 megabytes of free cloud storage, or 25 gigabytes for $2.99 a month, 75 GB for $5.99 per or 125 GB for $9.99 per month. Data charges may also apply for using the Cloud.
Wait a minute...500 megabytes free? Apple's iCloud and Amazon's Cloud Drive all start with 5 GB gratis, while SkyDrive gives away 7 GB. Dropbox starts charging customers after 2 GB. Earlier this month, Google went nuts and upped its free storage capacity from 5 GB to 15 GB. All that makes Verizon's giveaway look pretty chintzy.
Of course, users don't have to choose between these services and can distribute their photos, documents and other data between all of them. So why pay $2.99 for 25 GB if you can use Google's 15 GB plus an Apple and Amazon account for free?
Making money from storage is likely secondary to these companies in comparison with their primary purpose of keeping customers attached to and engaged in their ecosystem. Apple's iCloud, for example, is a great place to keep all the songs, TV shows and movies customers download from iTunes, and freedom from the limitations of a device's internal drive encourages more buying.
Same Service, New Name?
"Cloud Storage Locker wars have already begun with platform vendors like Google, Microsoft and services like Box, and Dropbox competing at GB levels," said wireless analyst Neil Shah of Current Analysis. "Now, operators are also upgrading and rebranding their existing 'backup assistant' solutions as 'Cloud' solutions to attract existing loyal subscribers. They are banking on the years of built trust to compete in this space against [a company] like Google which might be perceived to be less privacy friendly."
He added that Verizon's advantage is in allowing its Cloud to store not only media but also text, multimedia messages, call logs and contacts.
"However, Verizon is still offering just 500 megabytes free, compared with the competition, which could make it less attractive," Shah said.