If GDrive (Google's online storage technology) launches, we'll be one step closer to addressing two of my biggest pet peeves about computer technology: data synchronization and data loss. I find it archaic that we still think of data living on a physical computer. Why should I have to take an extra step to make sure that a CD I ripped is on all three of my computers? Why should I risk losing all of the data on a computer when the hard drive fails? Why do I have to make backups of my computer? My ideal solution would be that all my computers talk to each other and provide one unified storage area -- I retain control over my data. Another solution that has it's own benefits is for a company like Google to provide free online storage.
I imagine that personal data storage is a bit of a holy grail for an information company like Google. One of the main criteria I use when evaluating a new startup is whether or not it makes more information accessible as well as the value of the information being provided. FlySpy and Zillow evaluate well by this criteria because both enable users to access valuable information that was previously thought inaccessible. Now imagine if your company could store all of your personal data. Your personal data is the most valuable data a company could present to you. Making your personal data available to me anywhere would also solve data synchronization and backup headaches while also enabling an entire new breed of Web applications that directly interface to your online storage.
The main impediment to controlling this data is the obvious costs associated with storing hundreds of gigabytes of data per user. Google has to index billions of Web pages, but it can share the cost of that index across all of it's users. Personal data must only be shared with one person. Desktop search technologies are a cheaper approach, but they don't offer the same control; I can always install multiple desktop search technologies or switch from one to the other. Desktop search solutions also get the EFF to raise red flags when they try to assert a bit more control over your personal data -- it's better to be explicit about what it is you're trying to do, especially when walking the grey areas of privacy.
GDrive will be entering a crowded space. There are many other competitors and it's not clear that Google will even have the leading product in the field. However, Google is a more interesting player in the space because (a) it is offering to store 100% of your data and (b) the variety of other Google services. GDrive, GMail, and the rumored Google Calendar could interact seamlessly. You could publish to Google Video with a single click. You could save copies of searches and Web pages directly into your online storage. It's these new types of interactions between Web applications that I think will be the major factor in the next generation of Web applications -- they are the ones necessary to facilitate a greater transition to an online mode of interaction with a more diverse ecosystem of devices (personal computers, handheld devices, cellphones, etc...).