While much digital ink has been spilled this week on the changes coming to Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage service, there is one element of this announcement that I haven’t seen much discussion on in the course of these writings. That’s not to say it isn’t out there, just not much of it. That element is the view that the announcement was nothing short of a victory of Google and the Google Drive service. It is a victory without them having to “dive to the bottom” on pricing to win. They simply stayed the course and let Microsoft figure out that giving away unlimited storage is unsustainable.
For those who somehow missed what I’m talking about, earlier this week Microsoft announced big changes coming to OneDrive:
- The Free account goes down from 15GB of storage to 5GB and the 15GB “Camera Roll” bonus (you got it when you sync’d your photos with OneDrive) is eliminated
- Office 365 subscribers now get 1TB of storage, not unlimited
- the 100GB and 200GB storage accounts are going away to for new subscribers (if you have one of these you can keep it) and is replaced with a $1.99/month 50GB account.
These changes fly in the face of the much hyped “unlimited” storage offer that Microsoft made just last year and has angered plenty of people because, until this change, OneDrive was really the best value out there when it came to cloud storage.
That has now changed and Google Drive is certainly looking to be one of the more attractive mainstream cloud storage offers out in the market.
What I’m not going to do here is bash Microsoft. That has happened enough already and I’ll only say they figured out that SaaS is a bit more expensive to maintain when you start throwing the term “unlimited” out there all willy-nilly. I’m simply going to go over the economics of OneDrive now versus Google Drive. The first and most obvious point is the free account. With Google Drive you get 15GB of storage free, 3 times that of OneDrive now. While 15GB isn’t a huge amount of storage in today’s terms, it is still significant and I would venture to guess that a very high percentage of users only need this 15GB.
But that 15GB in Google’s terms is far different than what Microsoft ever offered. First, if you upload your photos to Google Drive via the Google Photos app and do so in “high quality”, this does not count against your storage quota. So what does this really mean? Basically if you are uploading photos of 16MP or less, you aren’t going to consume any of your quota. For most users, again, this is enough quality for photos as most smartphones shoot less than 16MP. Add to the Google Photos storage that any file created with Google Docs, Google Sheets or Google Slides doesn’t count against your storage either. Google Drive can store Microsoft Office files and they do count against your quota but Google is driving to make their suite more attractive and this certainly helps that cause.
With these two “freebies” on Google Drive, for many users there will not be a need to purchase additional storage. If however you do need more, you can get 100GB for $1.99 per month, 50GB more than OneDrive at the same price. To be fair, with an Office 365 Home subscription, the 1TB of storage from Microsoft and Google are the same $9.99 per month. Google does offer up to 30TB plans for those who really need that amount of storage but with Microsoft, it is 1TB max. Period.
My point is that the changes Microsoft made to OneDrive’s pricing structure has suddenly made Google Drive very attractive. It works seamlessly on iOS and Android and you can access it from a Mac, PC or from your mobile with a very consistent experience across all of those platforms. One big misconception about Google Drive is that you can only access files while you are online. That is simply not true, even on an always on-net device like a Chromebook. In other words, it functions just like OneDrive online or offline.
Ultimately Microsoft has shot themselves squarely in the foot with this change and it has all the makings of a bad day for Redmond when it is all said and done. Consumers will look a prices first and the value that they had with OneDrive is all-but gone now. If you are one of those who used OneDrive heavily, it may be time to look at Google Drive for your storage needs.