Google has attracted billions of consumers for its digital services by providing copious free cloud storage. This is starting to change.
The Alphabet Inc. unit has reduced some free storage offerings in recent months while encouraging more users to a new paid cloud subscription called Google One. This is happening as the amount of data people store online continues to grow. move up.
When people reach these limits, they realize that they have little choice but to start paying or risk losing access to e-mail, photos, and personal documents. The cost is not excessive for most consumers, but at the scale Google operates, it can generate billions of dollars of extra revenue each year for the company. Google did not respond to an email asking for comments.
A big driver of change is Gmail. Google rocked the email business when Gmail was launched in 2004 with much more free storage than rivals were providing at the time. It raised the storage limit every two years, but in 2013 it stopped. People's inboxes were full. And now that some of Google's other free storage offerings are shrinking, consumers are starting to have unpleasant surprises.
"I was using the account happily and one day I realized that I haven't received any email since the day before," said Rod Adams, a nuclear energy analyst and retired naval officer. After using Gmail since 2006, it finally reached its 15 GB limit and Google stopped it. Changing Gmail wasn't an easy option because many of your social and business contacts reach you that way.
"I just said, 'OK, I've been free for a long time, now I'm paying,'" said Adams.
Other Gmail users are not so happy about the changes. “I'm irrationally sad to use almost all of my free storage on Google. It seemed infinite. Please don't make me pay! I need U gmail googledocs !, ”one person tweeted in September.
Some people have tweeted panic messages to Google in recent months, with warnings about their storage limits. A self-described technology enthusiast said he opened multiple Gmail accounts to avoid increasing Google's storage limits. Google also recently closed or limited other promotions that gave people free cloud storage and helped them avoid crises in Gmail. New buyers of Chromebook laptops used to get 100 GB free for two years. In May 2019, it was reduced to one year.
The Google Pixel smartphone, originally launched in 2016, came with unlimited free photo storage through the company's photo service. The latest Pixel 4 handset released in October still has free photo storage, but images are now compressed, reducing quality.
More than 11,500 people in one week signed an online petition to retrieve the full and free Pixel photo deal. Evgeny Rezunenko, the petition's organizer, called Google's move a "hypocritical and money-grabbing move."
"Let's remind Google that part of the reason people chose Pixel phones over other manufacturers with a similar high price tag was in fact this service," he wrote.
Smartphones have dramatically increased the number of photos people take – an estimated 2017 total is 1.2 trillion. These images quickly fill the storage space of the devices, so technology companies, including Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc., and Google, offered cloud storage instead. Now these online memories are piling up, some of these companies are charging users to keep them.
Apple has been doing this for several years, turning its iCloud storage service into a lucrative recurring revenue stream. When iPhone users receive notifications that their devices are full and should delete photos and other files or pay more for cloud storage, people often choose the cloud option.
In May, Google launched Google One, a replacement for the Drive cloud storage service. There is a free level of 15 GB – enough room for about 5,000 photos, depending on the resolution. It then costs $ 1.99 per month for 100 GB and from there. This includes several types of files previously stored in Google Drive, as well as Gmail emails, photos, and videos. The company closed its two-year 100GB free storage offering at the same time, while Pixel's free photo storage deal ended in October with the launch of Pixel 4.
Gmail, Drive, and Google Photos each have over 1 billion users. As the company removes free storage, offers and prompts more people to pay, this creates a potentially huge new revenue stream for the company. If 10% of Gmail users sign up for the new Google One subscription for $ 1.99 a month, that would generate nearly $ 2.4 billion a year in annual recurring sales for the company.
Adams, the Gmail user, is one of the people contributing to this growing business of Google. $ 1.99 a month is a relatively small price to pay to avoid losing your main digital point of contact with the world.
"It worked for so long," said Adams. "I didn't want to worry about changing the address."
October 23, 2019 at 2:49 pm