Ive been testing Omnidrives very early beta product over the last few days. Omnidrive will be launching in January, 2006.
Ive spent hours with it (and previously posted a brief mention) – significantly more than I spend with most products. The reason? This is a product that I and millions of others really need – a pure and functional online storage product with key web 2.0 features. Omnidrive is based in Australia, but is as good or better than anything else Ive seen out of silicon valley recently. It has been in development for 12 months.
Access & Features
Users have two ways to upload, view and interact with files.
The first is a web interface that allows for fairly easy file uploading. Users have three main folder options to start – private, shared and public. By placing a file in the shared folder, other people youve allowed in can see and download the file. If placed in the public folder, everyone can access the file.
Omnidrive is also releasing a toolbar to assist with the web interface.
The second way to access files is via a download (they support PC and Mac now, pocket PC later) that creates a virtual Omnidrive drive. This is THE way to upload or download big batches of files at once. Drag in a multi-gigabyte folder and Omnidrive will work away at it in the background until its fully uploaded or downloaded.
The other features, some of which are still being built, include:
- built in media player to access media files
- set upload and download speeds to work in the background
- Omnidrive will pick up where it left off after rebooting computer
- RSS for folders
- tagging of files
- permanent URL for each file
- syncing of folders on a hard drive to the Omnidrive
- each Shared folder has separate access controls
Pricing is a tough area for Omnidrive. They face storage and, more importantly, bandwidth costs that can be significant on a per user basis. In a post I wrote back in November (when I first heard of Omnidrive), I wrote that these services needed to give some storage for free, and lots for cheap. Founder Nik Cubrilovic responded in a post that my pricing needs were crazy, but agreed that there needs to be a compelling price point to get mass user adoption.
Their current pricing reflects this thinking. They will give a gig or two of storage for free, and sell 10 gb bundles above that for not more than $70 per year. Thats pricy, but way below the industry standard right now.
And of course there will have to be bandwidth throttles. Since files can be public, outgoing bandwidth can be a massive cost for them.
This Can Be a Huge Idea
Im saying this flat-out. Omnidrive is in a position to dominate a market with tremendous pent up demand. Ive looked at a number of competing services and no one is doing anything close to what they are in functionality and usability.
This service, or a white label version of it, should be built in to every new computer and operating system, and many web applications. With an appropriate API in and out, and rock-bottom pricing, Omnidrive can own a very large market niche.
The cost problem is not trivial, and for a self funded startup taking an up front cost with the promise of long-term customer loyalty is difficult to say the least. But the opportunity is there. This company needs to get funded and start acquiring users, immediately. [TechCrunch]