Canonical is launching a beta version of it's UbuntuOne online storage! Sounds interesting so far even if it parallels the existing, cross-platform DropBox.
Already, the Dell Mini 9 was sold with free DropBox accounts, a great idea for a netbook with a minimal SSD drive to store everything.
Apple has had something like this for a while, called MobileMe (formerly Mac.com). MobileMe includes Microsoft Exchange like features such as email, contacts and calendars which can be synched between systems as well as an online photo gallery and the iDisk online storage. All of this for $99 per year.
Google has been offering something almost like this for a much better price; free. The Gmail, Contacts and Calendars can be accessed either online or client applications by IMAP (for mail) and various plug-ins. They also include an online photo gallery through Picasa Web and integrates with Picasa on the client. Unfortunately it only works with Windows as far as I know. The only other downside seen with this system is that some personal information may be gleaned off of your content for directed advertisements and interest-gathering.
Microsoft has been making moves with its Live system. Admittingly, though, I don't know enough about what it offers, though the applications that will integrate with it will surely be Windows-only.
So now Canonical is offering its own online drive space only and at $10/month for 10GB, or 2GB for free, it makes me wonder why?
Why would Canonical do this? I have a theory.
UbuntuOne is an added benefit for using Ubuntu that doesn't require tinkering with the operating system itself. It is an add-on that people can choose to use or not use, and it isn't being forced upon anybody which would surely raise howls of protests from some Linux users.
It also begins a platform for offering other features in the future, whether free or paid for, such as an email account (@UbuntuUser.com?), calendar, contacts, to-do's and such which actually integrates with Linux email clients without a lot of tinkering. Imagine opening Evolution (Gnome's default email client) and being able to select UbuntuOne as the provider, enter your username and password and that's it, it's done?!
At the same time, this provides a perfect example for demonstrating the power and capabilities of Ubuntu Server and how it can be used for typical uses with alarge loads.
Canonical is shaping up to be a flexible company that seems to be taking pages from other company's playbook and is positioning itself very nicely. They aren't as stogey as Red Hat yet they offer a solid Server contender. They aren't as flashy as Apple but are closing the gap of out-of-the-box usability, pre-installed channels and user-friendliness.
Of course, don't forget that there have been mention by Mark Shuttleworth about "blending" the desktop to the web. Combine this with the Cloud Computing ambitions with Ubuntu Server and I see UbuntuOne as the ante-up for Canonical to take this and go
I'm hopeful for this, and I hope I am granted a beta account. This could be the beginning of a whole new world.