The price of raw storage in terms of the cost per terabyte keeps dropping. So it shouldn't come as a huge surprise to see application service providers such as Box.net announcing upgraded offerings that give an individual user access to up to 5GB of free storage, while giving business customers plans that start with a basic level of 500 GB of storage per user.
What is interesting is what people will be doing with all the storage capacity in the cloud.
According to Box.net CEO Aaron Levie, the amount of storage that Box.net is willing to provide is not only meant to differentiate his company from rival cloud computing services from Google and Microsoft, it also sets the stage for the next great battle in the cloud.
Box.net and other providers will be vying to get developers to create collaboration applications on top of their platforms. Naturally, we'll have to wait for these environments to expose richer sets of APIs to create those applications. But before those applications can be built, the underlying platform needs to be capable of allowing customers to access collaboration applications that will consume a lot of storage.
We've already seen numerous attempts to build collaboration applications in the cloud with mixed results at best. But Levie says that once people start storing their documents in the cloud, it's only natural that they will want to collaborate around them. And the online service that makes that truly happen first is likely to be the next big thing in the cloud.