Is Google ripping everyone off with its Google One cloud-storage service? I confess, this isn’t something I’ve thought about much, but a Lifehacker reader recently sent a letter asking this very question.
I’ll let George explain:
“I recently upgraded my Google account storage via Google One. I opted for 200 GB.
I assumed my total storage would then be 215 GB; the free 15 GB that I had with my free Google account, plus the 200 GB I am now paying for. But that is not the case. I have 200 GB of storage for my Google account.
Am I an idiot for assuming I would have 215 GB of storage? I feel like I’m paying for 185 GB of storage now that Google has seemingly rolled my free 15 GB of storage into my 200 GB purchase.
Thank you for your time, and keep up the great work on Lifehacker.”
Your question is more “Why does Google like round numbers” than anything else, I think. Before I get to an answer, let’s take a moment to review. Google One, for the uninitiated, is a cloud-storage service that you’ll probably end up paying for at some point if your Gmail is out of control (and you haven’t cleaned up all the huge files you’ve been sending and receiving).
Right now, here are all the different Google One options (and their prices):
200GB: $4.39/month or $43.99/year
2TB: $12.49/month or $124.99/year
You are completely correct, George. Google isn’t giving you [your plan] plus 15GB. Rather, the 15GB are being rolled up into your plan. So, yes, you’re technically only paying for 185GB, not the full 200, but we’re pinching pennies at this point. Assuming you’re smart and are paying $43.99 annually to score your 17-per cent discount, this means that you’re effectively coughing up 20 cents per gigabyte, per year. So, you’re losing out on a whopping… $3. I wouldn’t sweat it.
And while I joked earlier, I think the sole reason for Google doing this—and not giving you 215GB for the cash you cough up—is because round numbers are prettier to look at. Google would probably have to dedicate even more of its massive server infrastructure to user storage if everyone buying a Google One plan got an extra 15GB, but I doubt the company is sweating financially, or even worried about its server loadouts, to make that happen. The move is pure marketing, because everyone likes round numbers. Really.
And Google isn’t ambiguous about what it offers. The second sentence on the Google One pricing page is the following: “All Google Accounts include 15 GB of storage for free.” It’s the word “include” that’s killing your extra storage. I suppose Google could make this clearer by showing that you’re really paying for [plan] minus 15GB, but I think that would be a lot more stressful for non-techies to understand than simply rolling everything up into happy round numbers.
For what it’s worth, Google gives you the most free storage—with no strings attached—of any of the major cloud storage providers. So even though you’re paying for less data than what you might think, at least you’re getting more for free? Sort of? And no matter how you slice and dice it in your head, Google One has the best cost-per-gigabyte ratio of anyone I’ve looked at, so you’d still be saving money even if some other service gave you 215GB (which they don’t).