Google screws Mega (UPDATED with Mega CEO response)
Last week, Google said it was adding encryption to its Drive online storage and file sharing service.
On the face of things, it looked like bad news for Kim Dotcom's startup Mega, which will reverse-list on the NZX in August.
I don't think the US giant was particularly targeting Mega. Rather, Google's looking for an advantage over the likes of Dropbox, Microsoft, Apple and others as the online storage war heats up.
Nevertheless, encryption has been the key point of difference for Mega in the crowded online file storage market.
Google is only offering encryption for those who pay from $US10 a user per month for Drive.
Mega offes encryption to all-comers, including those on its freebie plans (that is, those up to 50GB). But then again, Mega's investors will be focused on the folks who pay.
I asked Mega chief executive Stephen Hall for comment. After mulling things over for several days (and waiting in vain for more info from Google), he's now replied.
His key point is that Mega puts the user in control of encryption. Only the user has the power to decrypt files (one downside of security lockdown around this arrangement is that if you forget your password to Mega, you're stuffed. You can't request a reset).
Hall's complete reply:
Google still hasn’t provided any details of its ‘encryption in transit’ for Drive, although it does talk about it in relation to Gmail where it refers just to TLS [transport layer security].
All we know right now is that:
- Google uses SSL as encryption technology;
- SSL is a very common technology used by most cloud providers to establish an encrypted connection between a server and a client;
- SSL has nothing to do with Mega’s User Controlled Encryption, which encrypts data before it is being uploaded - via an encrypted SSL connection – to the Mega platform.
With Mega’s encryption the user controls the keys. Neither Mega nor any other external party can decrypt the encrypted files.
Mega will also be watching nervously that Google is now offering Drive users unlimited online storage for $US10 a month, while Microsoft is offering Office 365 subscribers a terabyte, which they can use for any purpose as long as they've paid their 365 sub (it costs from $6.40 a month).
Google screws Mega
June 26 The cloud storage war just got even more intense.
At its I/O conference in San Francisco, Google launched Google Drive for Work, which offers unlimited online storage for $US10 a user per month (the company has one global rate, charged in US dollars).
It's more evidence – as if any were needed – that it's becoming near-impossible for local players to compete in commodity cloud services.
Online storage and file sharing specialists like Box, Dropbox and Mega will also be feeling the heat.
Google says the Drive upgrade, available from today, also includes advanced audit reporting and new security controls.
The announcement comes on the heels of Microsoft supersizing OneDrive online storage for Office 365 users to 1 terabyte (1024GB), which can be used for any purpose. Office 365 costs from $6.40 a month.
Apple also recently announced a series of capacity upgrades and price reductions for iCloud, including 200GB for $US0.99 per month. The new plans will launch in the New Zealand spring.
Google says as well as offering unlimited storage, Drive now supports individual files of up to 5TB in size (even though most PCs today are sold with hard drives a fifth that capacity, or less).
And Google also steals the key point of difference for Kim Dotcom's Mega. As of today, all files uploaded to Google Drive will be encrypted, not only from your device to Google and in transit between Google data centers, but also at rest on Google servers, the company says.
NBR has asked Mega for comment [UPDATE: Chief executive Stephen Hall says Mega has no comment until it sees more details.] The Auckland-based online storage company, which offers 50GB free before its charges kick in, has to be watching the online storage price and feature war between the multinationals nervously as it prepares for its controversial reverse listing on the NZX in August.
Google isn't specifically targeting Mega. Dropbox, Microsoft and Apple's online storage efforts loom far larger on its radar.
Nevertheless, the company's move to embrace encyption and offer business users unlimited storage, will put the squeeze on Kim Dotcom's startup (which has not so far disclosed paid user numbers, or any financials).
One solace for Mega: encryption and other new security options are only being offered Drive users who shell out $US10 a month. In the freebie space, Mega will still be able to claim encryption as a unique point of difference – although of course over time its investors will want to see more subscribers move on to paying plans.
Google also has Microsoft in its guns this morning.
Some of the most common file types stored in Drive are Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, the comany says, "We’ve now built the power of Quickoffice into Docs, Sheets and Slides, so you can open and edit those documents in their native format Office Compatibility Mode directly on Android and Chrome browser today, and coming soon to iOS. No need to buy additional software or decide how to open your file. Editing Office files is just a click or tap away from Drive on your computer, tablet or phone."
Google also used I/O to preview Android L, a new operating system for phone, car, tablet and TV; Material Design, a development initiative to give Google's products visual consistency across the Web and Android, and Android smartwatches from Motorola and LG.
Check out The Verge's roundup of major announcements here.
Watch the I/O livestream here.