Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) recently announced that it will offer 15 GB of free cloud storage. Now, Google Drive is one of the most cost effective cloud storage services available. Google maintains a clear advantage in the cloud storage business as it already operates a huge network of datacenters to power its profitable search engine. Also, it has more than 420 million Gmail users that it can entice to use its free and paid cloud storage services.
Where is the Cloud Going?
Storage costs are falling and the world is becoming more connected. Between 4G cell phone networks and the latest fiber optic connections, people are able to transfer more data at a quicker pace. Also, using multiple computing devices like smartphones, laptops and tablets is becoming the norm. Cloud storage takes advantage of these factors by providing a central location to store and edit important files. Now consumers do not have to lug around as many external storage devices.
Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) doesn’t want to let Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) shut it out of the cloud’s growth.
Before Google’s recent announcement, Microsoft’s offer of 7GB of free storage was the best options available. Microsoft still has an advantage in that it is easier use its product across Android, Windows, Mac and remote access platforms. Like Google, Microsoft’s Bing search engine means that it already has a global datacenter network.
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has an advantage over Microsoft in that Google’s search engine is profitable while Bing continues to bleed cash. Microsoft is working hard to make its online services division profitable. The online services division managed to decrease its operating income loss from $(480) million in Q1, 2012 to just $(262) million in Q1, 2013. Though internet-based and mobile computing continue to grow, Microsoft’s mobile OS has not performed as was hoped. Still, the company is trying to prepare itself for a mobile and internet based future.
Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is still a powerful machine. It boasts a gross margin of 79.9% and earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) margin of 28.9%. This is comparable to Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s gross margin of 63.7% and EBIT margin of 25.3%. Nevertheless, Google is more in line with the internet revolution. This strategic difference is seen in Google’s five year earnings per share (EPS) growth rate of 20.45% compared to Microsoft’s five year EPS growth rate of 3.83%.
Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) shouldn’t be forgotten. The huge number of iDevices and affluent consumer base give it a strong foundation to grow its cloud product. The iCloud only offers 5GB of free storage. Its paid option of 50GB at $100 per year is significantly more than Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s option of 100GB at $60 per year. Another downside to Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s iCloud is that it is more difficult to use with other operating systems (OS) like Windows or Android.