While there are a lot of great cloud solutions out there, Hive is offering something different that many people may find compelling. The "different" is free unlimited storage for documents, photos, music and videos. The service is focused on social use, so you can upload and share with family or friends, and lock folders for privacy.
Your content can be viewed in a web browser, and Hive supports views of the content, like photos, instead of just showing you a bunch of icons. Content can be uploaded from other services like Dropbox, and users can send links to friends pointing to whatever content is stored on Hive. Hive describes the service as "like Facebook with personal storage."
While you can store an unlimited amount of content, Hive wants you to pay a little for a faster, richer service. There are some limits, although storage is truly unlimited. You can add up to 50 GB to your Hive every month, or 100 GB for premium members. File size is limited to 20 GB, but that is very generous. Premium users can stream music and video in HD, download and stream with no bandwidth restrictions, and enjoy an ad-free environment. The more friends you share things with, the cheaper the Premium account becomes. With ten or fewer friends on Hive, users pay US$9 a month for the Premium subscription. With more than 10 friends, Premium drops to $6 per month. At more than 50 friends, it drops to $3 a month. When there are more than 100 friends, the Premium subscription becomes free. Adding and inviting friends is easy. It's all built into the Hive webpage.
I gave Hive a try and did the free signup. Getting files to the service was quick and easy, but not every option was obvious. I suggested to the Hive Management Team that there should be more on-screen help, and that is being done quickly. I never saw a glitch while uploading my content, and I liked seeing the actual photos on the web rather than just lists of files. Most files can be dragged and dropped onto the Hive web interface. You can even paste in a weblink to upload files from that location. Hive co-founder Thierry Lehartel told me by phone that the whole point of Hive is to make content easy to share and yet make the system powerful. The company wants to make an emotional connection with users, and I'd say the design and ease of use makes that goal achievable.
The only things missing from the system are dedicated iOS apps. Those are coming at the end of the month, according to Lehartel. In the meantime, iOS users can use their Safari browser on their iPhones and iPads.
Hive is attractive and shows some fresh thinking about cloud storage, making it social and visually pleasing. The system has been in an extended beta and already has many thousands of users world wide.
Hive is certainly worth a look and a try. It's free unless you want some of the extra features.