Remember the fabled GDrive? It never took off. I'd actually say that this is one of the bigger weaknesses in Google's Apps-related offerings. Microsoft, after all, offers 25GB of free storage on their Windows Live SkyDrive and while you can now upload any file types to Google Docs (with much more granular sharing permissions I should add), the GDrive remains a pipedream. That's where Memeo comes in.
If you are a Google Premier Edition customer, then installing Memeo Connect via the Google Apps Marketplace gives you Mac and Windows client software that, for $9/user/year (note the correction here: I had originally noted $9/user/month. Can you say value prop?), syncs documents, videos, pictures, etc., with Google Docs. It fully exploits the Docs API and is therefore only available to Premier users (bummer), but given the cheap extra storage that Google makes available to it's Premier customers, it ends up representing a solid value for companies looking to give their employees anytime, anywhere access to anything.
While Dropbox also offers cloud sync cheaply for mobile devices and desktops, the fidelity and document management tools enabled in Memeo not only take cloud sync a step further than Dropbox, but more importantly, integrate completely with Google Docs rather than yet another service. All of the sharing and synchronization can be accessed from the enterprise level, making Memeo a far more powerful business too and allowing Dropbox to focus on the consumer market.
The Memeo iPad Reader, however, announced today, brings Docs access to anyone with an iPad and a Gmail/Apps account. Check out the demo below:
For now, this is read only, but then again, the iPad (at least until anyone really kicks it around for a while) is primarily a viewing device. I had a chance to talk with a couple of the folks from Memeo yesterday and they indicated that, although a reader application was a no-brainer with the iPad, they're taking a wait-and-see approach with other use cases and associated applications. They're right: no one really knows how people will use small, durable, pretty tablets in the wild.
I was particularly impressed with the fidelity of the documents and the ability of the reader to natively support both Google Apps formats and a variety of document and image files that can be stored unconverted in the Google Docs cloud. For example, if a heavily formatted Word 2007 document is stored in Docs, but not converted, the formatting will remain intact on the reader.
More intriguing, however, is the need for products like Memeo given the ongoing rivalry between Apple and Google. Memeo feels that Apple is unlikely to accept native Google applications, but remarkably fast-tracked the Memeo iPad reader App through the approval process. According to Memeo,
Google Docs is attracting millions of new users every month and have now allowed the ability to upload any file into the Google cloud. Google also developed GViewer to enable richer and higher fidelity viewing of popular document types to promote users to store all their files with Google; it's likely that Google themselves will eventually bring to the market tablet devices powered by the Android OS. Apple is looking for iPad to be a wholly new and differentiated viewing device. Apple's own ability to import Google Docs files to the iPad is both a competitive and a defensive tactic against the popularity of Google Docs.
The plot thickens, right? Don't you just love dog eat dog competition? It means that we get really useful free stuff as consumers, like the Memeo iPad Reader application.