Hold on to your Web browsers! Just as Web-based e-mail and online calendars made a splash this year, Web file storage services are the latest wave for businesses and consumers who want their important data safe, secure and easily accessible-online.
"Businesses and workers don't want to worry about losing their information if their hard drives crash," says Spencer Reiss, vice president at the GilderGroup, a technology research and publishing company in Housatonic, Massachusetts, and editor of New Economy Watch, a monthly report for investors. "There's no reason for consumers to have their important stuff stored in little plastic boxes. The proper place for all this info is online."
FreeDrive and Briefcase.com are a few leaders in this fledgling field, but experts say there's plenty of room for newcomers. Companies are luring customers with free file storage and charging for extra services like file encryption. Reiss also says there's a healthy market of businesses who will pay extra for more capacity, added security, data backup and other services.
Entrepreneurs entering this market must possess not only tech expertise, but also the business savvy to exploit niches and provide excellent customer service along the way. Reiss cautions there's also some market education required to acquaint users with this concept. But experts say with wide-open markets and unlimited potential, there are clearly a lot of opportunities to become the world's virtual filing cabinet.