More evidence that Google Drive could replace Google Docs

Google’s long-anticipated file-sharing service, Google Drive, may have a lot in common with Google Docs, and might even have the same features.

A sharp-eyed observer, Piers Dillon Scott, noticed today that drive.google.com hosts a robots.txt file that’s very similar to the one at docs.google.com, differing only by three or four lines. You can check them both out right now: robots.txt on drive.google.com and robots.txt on docs.google.com. By contrast, the robots.txt file for Gmail is far longer and more complicated.

Robots.txt is a standard file that website owners post to let search engines know which directories are OK to search and which to exclude from indexing. The similarity of the two sites’ files suggests that they will have nearly identical directory structures.

While the drive.google.com website is not online yet (it returns a 404 error), Google owns that domain name, and it will likely be the address of Google Drive. The fact that it has a robots.txt file that’s so similar to the one for Google Docs is not a definitive piece of evidence, but it certainly is suggestive that Drive will offer many of the same features (such as the ability to view presentations, documents, files, and drawings) that Google Docs does. That would make sense, since you can already upload files of any type to Google Drive, using it as a de facto online hard drive.

So if Google is going to create a Google Drive that has the same features, but with the addition of offline syncing and other file-sharing options, why not simply merge Google Docs into the newer product?

Previous reports have shown a Google Drive web interface that looks an awful lot like Google Docs (see screenshot above). The service will likely offer 5GB of free storage and present a serious competitive threat to other online storage services. But Box.net chief executive Aaron Levie isn’t scared, and for its part, Dropbox has made it even easier to share files through simple URLs.


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