Monday, January 17, 2011

4 Things To Know About BitTorrent

Kyle Bylin had a nice article on Hypebot recently about the 5 things to know about BitTorrent stats. I'm going to repurpose that article a bit for this post in order to make a few points. If you don't know what BitTorrent is, then you're probably not illegally file sharing or moving large amounts of data, but it's a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol for distributing large amounts of data.

That being said, if you're a content creator or owner of any kind, BitTorrent can be one of your worst nightmares as your work can be freely distributed to anyone anywhere if they so choose. Here are a few things you should now about the service.

1) BitTorrent has over 100 million monthly users. That includes over 20 million active users that download over 400,000 files daily. That does not include what may be up to a couple million unofficial clients.

2) BitTorrent has twice as many users as Hulu and Netflix combined, but it's only has about half as many users as iTunes or YouTube. This puts things into perspective a bit when you realize that twice as many people are willing to obtain their entertainment legitimately.

3) BitTorrent still makes most of its money from its toolbars. This means that unless they figure out a different business model, they're leaving a lot of potential money on the table since there's really no other way to take advantage of this massive amount of traffic.

4) Surprisingly enough, the highest searched for music item was only #47 of the most searched items (that was Eminem). All of the top 10 searches where Hollywood movies. People may be still downloading your music, but I would worry a lot more if I were a film studio, although that doesn't say too much for the popularity of music these days, does it?

What does this all mean?
A) People still are willing to pay to a quick and easy user experience.

B) Music is in trouble because people are beginning to feel that it's not worth stealing.

C) BitTorrent makes a lot of money but it's not the huge cash cow that it should be, given the amount of traffic that it has. Services like this have a tendency to be bought for their technology, or disconnect from their audience to find a new business model, so don't be surprised if one day BitTorrent isn't there anymore or becomes something else.

Read Kyle's article on Hypebot here.

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2 comments: said...

Bobby, as a techy dude, I have to point out a couple of things though...

The BT client is hardly the most popular. Those numbers aren't just missing a couple of millions, I dare say they could be off by more than 50%.

Comparing BT vs iTunes/Youtube users and saying that's a good way to judge who gets content legitimately implies that BitTorrent as a protocol is, by nature, illegitimate. That's just plain wrong, there's millions of legitimate uses for the BitTorrent protocol.

BitTorrent THE COMPANY has a terrible business model. Don't confuse them with THE PROTOCOL... artists can monetize and exploit BitTorrent as a content distribution network quite easily... charge the user to download the .torrent file needed to start the transfer.

Finally - BitTorrent the COMPANY may disappear, look for a new biz model, whatever... but the protocol is a protocol, rules for electronic communication... it's not going anywhere! That's like saying we may all be screwed when MIDI disappears cause they didn't figure out how to monetize it.

There's some good info here, but there's a lot of conclusions being drawn are just plain wrong... it looks like the original author had some confusion as to what BT is and how it works.

Anyway, sorry for the rather lengthy comment, just wanted to speak up since you're normally dead on with everything you write! Keep up the good work!

Bobby Owsinski said...

Thanks for the clarification. I was aware of the difference but didn't explain it well at all in the article.


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