Google Drive Blocked in China, Local Cloud Services Prevail
Only hours after Google announced the launch of its latest cloud storage service, Google Drive has been blocked in China. Given these developments, local services — which are more popular among local users, anyway — are likely to dominate, like with social networking, microblogging and search.
The door is open for local players to dominate the growing space, says Jon Russel at The Next Web. Even as Google’s social networking service Google+ made a brief appearance in China this February, Google is not likely to gain a big slice of the pie from China’s half billion Internet users. As such, local brands like Baidu are likely to swoop in successfully with their own services given the supposed vacuum.
However, China does have its own cloud storage services. With the absence of Dropbox, Box and other players in this space, Baidu has developed Wangpan, which actually offers a bit more storage than Google Drive. Wangpan offers 25 GB of storage initially, compared with Google Drive’s 5 GB for the free service. Wangpan has been in private beta since March, and Baidu made the service all the more desirable by limiting invitations to 5,000 per day (first come, first served).
Of course, it’s not just a question of storage capacity. Google Drive is not simply about storage, but also offers additional features like document collaboration, the ability to read multiple file formats, and multi-device access. Google Drive also has integration with Android, which enables users to edit their documents straight from their smartphones and tablets. An iOS variant will follow soon.
Baidu, for its part, plans to integrate Wangpan tightly into its Yi OS, another Android fork meant for the Chinese market. And as Russel observes, it’s likely that clone services will start appearing in the Chinese internet space, much like how Pinterest and other social networking services have been cloned, tweaked and built upon.
It’s too bad Google won’t be able to drive its latest offering into China. It’s a huge market, after all, but it seems that more than simply being able to filter content for security reasons, China wants to protect its local businesses, too.