Google, already has a near infinite number of data points to compute relevancy for the active parts of the web, and is looking to gather even more user data information. The WSJ has background on the story:
Google is preparing a service that would let users store on its computers essentially all of the files they might keep on their personal-computer hard drives -- such as word-processing documents, digital music, video clips and images, say people familiar with the matter. The service could let users access their files via the Internet from different computers and mobile devices when they sign on with a password, and share them online with friends.
They also mentioned the C word:
Google will likely have to address copyright issues. Allowing consumers to share different types of files such as music with other users could trigger the sort of copyright complaints the company already faces over videos on its YouTube video sharing site. One person familiar with the matter says Google is discussing with copyright holders how to approach the issue and has some preliminary solutions.
This is going to move Google up the value system by
- giving them a unique data source
- giving them unique relevancy signals
- keeping users locked into their services and using their services longer
- shift power from copyright holders to Google
- eventually allow Google to sell content (if they want to - the Google Video trial did not work too well)
But there will also be a big upside, especially to marketers and content creators who are willing to give away high value content to gain mindshare and marketshare. By creating content that people would want to store and share on Google, you get cheap or free exposure for your business interests.
As DaveN said, Google eventually has to move away from links because links are too polluted. What better relevancy signals can they come up with than attention data and how often people cite and share data ON THEIR NETWORK? Feedburner, Google Reader, iGoogle, Gmail, and Youtube are already part of the Google network. Soon your hard drive will be too.
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