Google has started charging for shared online storage available to both Gmail and Picasa, the search giant's web-based email and photo services.
The new storage space, which Google took pains to stress is in addition to the free allowance for each service (1GB for Picasa, 2.8GB for Gmail), is priced starting at $20 a year for another 6GB. In the first 20 minutes after the paid storage debuted, however, Google sold the 6GB bump for just $1 a year; that was quickly changed to $20.
Other plans provide an extra 25GB for $75 annually, 100GB for $250, and 250GB for $500.
In comparison, Microsoft's recently renamed Windows Live Skydrive service, offers 500MB, about 18 percent of Gmail's free limit.
"When you reach the limit of free storage, consider this your overflow solution," said Ryan Aquino, a software engineer on Google's Picasa team, on Google's primary blog. Other Google products, like Docs and Spreadsheets, the company's offline applications, will be able to access the shared storage "soon", Aquino added.
At one time, Google touted an 'Infinity+1' strategy for Gmail's online storage space, but later settled on the current 2.8GB.
In March, rival Yahoo announced unlimited storage for its webmail service. However, Yahoo flags accounts that it thinks are being used for online storage, rather than simply storing emails.