In the see-saw battle of P2P statistics, there's yet another entry, this time from MultiMedia Intelligence
. According to their study, P2P technology is going to see explosive growth in the magnitude of 400% in the next five years, equating to 8 petabytes of traffic per month. That's enough to make any ISP cringe.
The study attributes this growth to the rise of legitimate P2P traffic. That's a bold prediction, considering that authorized music/video stores from BitTorrent, LimeWire, and Azureus currently represent a minimal piece of the P2P pie. The overwhelming majority of P2P traffic exists on BitTorrent, and most of that traffic is part of The Pirate Bay's network. The Pirate Bay does contain a plethora of legitimate torrents, however their motivation is still entrenched
in P2P traditionalism. Apparently, this will all change soon.
â€œThe awareness of P2P networking grew from the illicit â€˜sharingâ€™ of music files, much to the chagrin of content holders,â€ according to Frank Dickson, Chief Research Officer with MultiMedia Intelligence. â€œDespite the prevailing perceptions of P2P as synonymous with content piracy, P2P is emerging as viable means of distributing legitimate content.â€
This study is in direct contrast with Ipoque's preliminary 2008 study
, which finds that P2P growth has slowed within the last year. According to Ipoque's study, there's been a slight decline in P2P traffic from 2007, as more individuals are opting for online storage sites like RapidShare and MegaDownload. Considering that authorized P2P traffic uses the same protocols as unauthorized P2P traffic, it would be interesting to see where the critical mass necessary for a 400% increase will come from.
However, lending credence to MultiMedia Intelligence's report is isoHunt's latest news. According to isoHunt's latest statistics, the BitTorrent indexer is currently cataloging over 1.1 petabyte of information - only 7 petabytes shy of MultiMedia's 8 petabyte prediction. Although the study predicts that legitimate traffic will eventually outstrip unauthorized traffic, it seems more plausible that both will work together to achieve this lofty 8 petabyte goal - providing authorized P2P stores become marketable.
And thatâ€™s a lofty goal on its own. Not only does legitimate P2P have to compete with unauthorized file-sharing, it has to compete with iTunes and TV show web sites. Studios such as NBC or ComedyCentral have virtually all scheduled programming available on their respective websites, negating a need for the average consumer to pirate TV shows. And itâ€™s those average consumers that legitimate P2P needs to attract if they have any chance of succeeding.
Legitimate file-sharing resources could potentially become marketable with movie distribution. Streaming half hour or hour TV shows isnâ€™t terribly challenging; however, once we get into the 2 hour movie realm, thatâ€™s when serious bandwidth power is needed. But the big question remains whether studios will embrace P2P as a mechanism for distribution, or just stick with what work, i.e., provide direct server-client streaming.