The PowerPoint slides from Google's recent analyst day mentioned Lighthouse and GDrive in the notes to slide 19:
With infinite storage, we can house all user files, including: emails, web history, pictures, bookmarks, etc and make it accessible from anywhere (any device, any platform, etc).Derrick highlighted these previously undisclosed projects in the comments to my earlier post.
We already have efforts in this direction in terms of GDrive, GDS [Google Desktop Search], Lighthouse, but all of them face bandwidth and storage constraints today.
Another important implication of this theme is that storing 100% of a user's data makes each piece of data more valuable because it can be access across applications. For example: a user's Orkut profile has more value when it's accessible from Gmail (as addressbook), Lighthouse (as access list), etc.
Garett Rogers at ZDNet writes about the GDrive rumors today, saying:
The GDrive service will provide anyone (who trusts Google with their data) a universally accessible network share that spans across computers, operating systems and even devices.Interesting. Back in August 2004, Richard Jones came up with a hack on top of GMail to use it for online storage. He called it GMailFS. Much speculation followed about whether Google would do a product for online storage.
I was skeptical about it at the time, but it sounds like Google may have at least done an internal project around the idea.
So, does anyone have any idea what Lighthouse might be?
Update: Richard MacManus at ZDNet also asks, "What is Google's Lighthouse?" He goes on to speculate that it might be "a security function that controls access to documents and folders ... a next-generation file search solution that 'shines a light' inside documents on your desktop."
Sounds like a pretty good guess. The latest version of Google Desktop Search (GDS) already allows you to store the search index for your documents on Google's servers. See
Perhaps Lighthouse is an extension to Google Desktop Search that allows you to open and control access of other people to the remote copy of the GDS index and your desktop documents.
That would mean that, if you wanted access to your desktop files remotely, you would have two options: (1) Use GDS and Lighthouse (leaving the master copy on your desktop) or (2) Use GDrive to upload your files to Google (putting the master copy remote on GDrive).
That sounds about right. It's what I would build if I were at Google.
Update: Several months later, Philipp Lenssen posts screen shots from a leaked copy of GDrive (codenamed Platypus). It apparently replicates and synchronizes all your files across multiple machines. It is only available internally inside of Google.
Update: Nearly two years later, the WSJ reports that "a service that would let users store on its computers essentially all of the files they might keep ... could be released as early as a few months from now."