Update: Google starts charging for extra storage

Space shared between Picasa and Gmail runs $20 per year for 6GB more

Just hours after Microsoft Corp. rolled out its Skydrive online storage service on Thursday, Google Inc. unveiled pricing for shared online storage available to both Gmail and Picasa, the search giant's Web-based e-mail and photo services, respectively.

The new storage space, which Google took pains to stress is in addition to the free allowance for each service (1GB for Picasa, 2.8GB for Gmail), is priced starting at $20 a year for another 6GB. A few users, however, took advantage of a $1/year-for-6GB price that Google listed during last-minute testing.

"We've updated the price, and we're letting those users keep the difference," said Google spokesman Chris Schreiber.

Other plans provide an extra 25GB for $75 annually, 100GB for $250, and 250GB for $500.

In comparison, Microsoft's Windows Live Skydrive, which it relaunched today with interface changes and a name change from Live Folders, offers 500MB, about 18% of Gmail's free limit.

"When you reach the limit of free storage, consider this your overflow solution," said Ryan Aquino, a software engineer on Google's Picasa team, on Google's primary blog. Other Google products, like Docs and Spreadsheets, the company's offline applications, will be able to access the shared storage "soon," Aquino added.

At one time, Google touted an "Infinity+1" strategy for Gmail's online storage space, but later settled on the current 2.8GB.

In March, rival Yahoo Inc. announced unlimited storage for its Web mail service. However, Yahoo flags accounts that it thinks are being used for online storage, rather than simply storing e-mails.

According to Schreiber, Google's Gmail allowance will continue to see a "steady trickle" increase. "The amount available for free right now is at 2.8GB, and it will continue to be gradually increased," he said. "And now we have an overflow option for those users with large amounts of mail and/or photos."

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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