Google wants you to keep your files on Google Drive and for you to spend more time in Gmail. So it's raising its game and your experience to help make that happen.
And this is no small deal for Google. The internet sweetheart is suddenly being squeezed by competition on all sides. On one end, it seems that more and more people are going straight to Amazon when searching for products (ComScore says that Amazon’s desktop search queries were up 47 percent between September 2013 and September 2014), which is hurting Google’s core ad search business. And, on the other end, Facebook is not only beginning to woo mobile marketing dollars away, but it may also be in a better position to leverage video in its News Feed.
Reacting to Competition
In comparison to Google, "Facebook appears better positioned to capture new dollars coming online given its 21 percent share of mobile time spent, strong leverage to news feed ads, and nascent opportunities in video and Instagram,” writes JP Morgan research analyst Doug Anmuth in a research note that was sent out yesterday.
The transition from desktop to mobile search isn’t going so well for Google either, he added.
Needless to say, Google needs to do something about this. Its stock hit a 52-week low yesterday.
And while Google figures out how to make its ad and mobile offering more compelling, it's making small pushes with Google Drive and Gmail. The strategy seems to be to leverage Gmail and Google Drive by delivering high value, high productivity, unparalleled experiences to win more of your mindshare and precious time.
So it goes to follow that yesterday Google announced interesting updates to its Android and iOS apps as well as a number of new Google Drive features in Gmail. (Note: We are in no way suggesting that these feature roll-outs, Anmuth’s research note and yesterday’s stock performance is directly related.)
Ask Out Loud, Drive Will Deliver
Want to find files stored on Google Drive from a mobile device (iOS available now, Android coming by 2015, if not sooner) by simply asking for them? You can now do that with Google’s Search app. All you have to do is utter a command like “OK Google, search for pictures from holiday parties 2013 on Drive” and voila! you have them.
Now to be fair, the Search app pushes you out to the Drive app, so this is actually just a short cut. But it does save you the trouble of opening the Drive app, and, hey, unless you’re exercising, having to take fewer steps, is a good thing.
The app offers an additional feature for iOS users. You can upload files to Drive that both iOS and non-iOS platforms can access.
“Insert as Attachment” Comes to Gmail
One of the nice things about sharing files via Gmail is that access is provided via a link, so they can be virtually of any size. One of the down sides is that if the file owner changes accessibility settings, recipients can become locked out in the future. In other words, if you sent me Aunt Mary’s fruitcake recipe last year via Gmail where I accessed it via a link, I may not be able to access it this year via the same link if you’ve made changes since. If you sent it as an attachment (like you can, starting, today). I’ll be able to access it from my end regardless of what you do on yours.
Linux Lovers Get What They Want
Linux lovers and others who relish open file formats (ODF) might note that Google Drive now supports all three major types: ODF (Open) file formats: .odt files for documents, .ods for spreadsheets, and .odp for presentations.
While Google certainly has its share of productivity app enthusiasts (shall we call them fanatics?), Microsoft still owns the market and it’s continuously making moves to get more sticky. In fact, Office apps are a big hit on Android and iOS devices.
And, if Google once had a mobile productivity app advantage Microsoft, they missed taking advantage of it. We could write a book about why, but here’s the deal, the average guy or gal never engaged.
That being said, Gmail is engaging and Google still has a play, especially if it can convince people to store “the files of their lives” (both personal and business) on Drive. This is an area where Microsoft most likely feels vulnerable and why they hooked up with Dropbox (the latter may actually hold more personal and work files of the millennial generation than any other Cloud service).
Google also needs to note that Facebook may be going into the “files of our lives” business as well. So it’s time to make big moves is now.