Google used to routinely increase their free storage offerings, from 1GB in 2004 all the way up to 15GB in 2013. Since then the free quota hasn’t increased.
Jordan Novet, writing for CNBC, thinks this is a problem for the company. He recently ran out of free storage; here he is talking about his options:
I could clear up space by deleting emails (email takes up much more of my space than photos or files) or moving some data around to other Google accounts. Or I could move them to services from other providers like Microsoft, which I pay $99.99 per year for the Office 365 suite that includes Outlook for email and OneDrive for storage.
The simpler thing to do would be to pull out my credit card and start paying Google.
That would go against the original value proposition of Gmail, though
It’s true: a bunch of free storage really was the initial appeal of Gmail, and eventually Google Drive. Google regularly increasing the amount of free space drew about a billion people to the platform.
But if growing a massive userbase was the plan here, mission accomplished. And giving away more free storage to your existing users doesn’t make economic sense unless doing so can attract new users, and it’s not clear how many more users Google can reasonably attract with free storage alone. So the company is trying to monetize their existing users, offering more storage for a fee. Here’s how those fees compare to other companies; it’s pretty reasonable, if unexceptional.
As Novet points out, switching to another provider means migrating your data, which to most users is a very real barrier. Which is part of why Google worked so hard to build up a massive userbase in the first place: so more people would potentially be willing to pay eventually.
Is this nefarious? I can understand why some might think so, but only if you’re entitled enough to think that Google should give everything away forever. Every company needs to get paid eventually, and advertising alone can’t pay for massive amounts of storage. Which is why it totally makes sense that free storage isn’t going up, even if you don’t like it.