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Loss of LimeWire Causes Massive P2P Decline?
March 23, 2011
Thomas Mennecke
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The NPD Group published a rather surprising survey on P2P use: since LimeWire was shut down, file-sharing use has fallen into the single digits in North America. LimeWire (residing on the Gnutella network) was, at least for a while, one of the most popular file-sharing programs with millions of simultaneous users. BitTorrent then came onto the scene, with mega-networks like The Pirate Bay supporting tens of millions of peers.

LimeWire still played an important role the P2P ecosystem, however, offering a quick way to grab MP3s. It's intuitive interface made it popular, and millions still used the software. But did the banishment of LimeWire cause a dramatic decline in file-sharing? The NPD Group seems to think so...

"...the percentage of the U.S. Internet population using a P2P file-sharing service to download music has fallen from a high of 16 percent in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2007 to just 9 percent in Q4 2010 when Limewire ceased its file-sharing operations. The average number of music files downloaded from P2P networks also declined from 35 tracks per person in Q4 2007 to just 18 tracks in Q4 2010, although some downloaded just one or two tracks, while others took hundreds. NPD estimates there were 16 million P2P users downloading music in Q4 2010, which is 12 million fewer than in Q4 2007."

Recent statistics on file-sharing usage seem to disagree with this assessment. If you recall, Sandvine published an Internet bandwidth study, breaking down file-sharing by protocol. According their study, in North America, BitTorrent consumes ~8.4% of all download bandwidth, while Gnutella consumes about ~2.1%. So even if Gnutella lost half of its population after the closure of LimeWire, it's not quite clear how that would have the overall impact the NPD Group contends.

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