Google is set to launch its own brand of hosted-storage services, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

The online storage subscription-based service is said to be ready for release early next year. The service will reportedly include a limited amount of free storage with extra space available for an undisclosed price.

Increased mobility of end users and the rapid proliferation of stored digital content, including photos, video and music, is driving businesses and home users toward fixed fee-based online storage systems that can meet growing storage needs without relying on spinning and space-constrained hard drives.

Freedom to access personal storage files from any device or PC is another attraction of online storage. Armed with only a Web browser and password, users can quickly upload, share or see their files (which will reside on Google's servers) via a high-speed Internet connection. In particular, students and campuses have lauded the cost-effective data storage option.

Despite its vast resources, Google is a late entrant into the hosted-storage arena, observers noted. Microsoft announced its free 500MB online storage service dubbed Windows Live Skydrive in August, while Facebook launched its open Data Store API in September.

Even EMC has driven a stake into the hosted-storage landscape with its October agreement to buy Berkeley Data Systems and its popular Mozy online backup business for $76 million.

Google has already started adding extra storage for Gmail users which has been burning up capacity because of large digital files being stored such as photos and attachments.

Google officials could not be reached for comment.