Leading internet company Google is reportedly due to launch a full-service data storage facility, allowing users to save files and access them from anywhere.
Google Drive will be the latest high-profile development in 'cloud' computing, currently evident in services such as Dropbox. Users upload documents, photos, videos and music to their user account and can retrieve them on any connected device.
It is not the first time that Google has toyed with the idea of data storage. Google Docs has been available since 2007, allowing users to access and share documents; and in the same year, it was reported that company co-founder Larry Page discussed a project codenamed 'G Drive' with programmers - but it was never launched.
Also in 2007, Dropbox was founded and has since had enormous success, now boasting over 45m members. Drew Houston, chief executive of the company, has been quoted as saying that in 2009 it declined a buyout from Apple.
'Free for most consumers and businesses'
Amir Efrati, writing for the Wall Street Journal's technology blog, said: "[Drive] is a response to the growth of internet-connected mobile devices like smartphones and tablets."
He added: "[It] will be free for most consumers and businesses. Google will charge a fee to those who want to store a large amount of files."
Google Drive would be included in the company's portfolio of applications, known as Google Apps - and would rival the Apple iCloud facility, which connects to iPhones and other Apple devices.
Mark Baker, online marketing manager at theEword, said: "Dropbox has enjoyed huge success, showing that there is a demand for cloud storage - and Google's brand strength may propel this product to reach an even bigger audience.
"However, some may compare the dynamic between Google Drive and Dropbox to that between Google+ and Facebook. In some fields, Google has been a little late to the party and people have already pledged allegiance to a service they like."