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P2P Population Remains Steady
October 20, 2006
Thomas Mennecke
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Remember Napster? During those early days of P2P, Napster managed to reach a peak population of approximately 1.5 million simultaneous users at any given point. A healthy size by any network standard, it would later become eclipsed by WinMX, Gnutella, FastTrack, eDonkey2000 and BitTorrent.

Tracking P2P data has changed hands many times in P2P history. Clips2 and were two prominent P2P data harvesting sites, however have since discontinued their service. Big Champagne remains one of the few, if not only, independent P2P tracking firms left to the task. For over three years, Big Champagne has been conducting deep packet inspections in an attempt to estimate the general growth and volume of P2P traffic and translate that raw data into a visible population.

The results have been fascinating. After the RIAA announced in June 2003 the initial wave of lawsuits against alleged P2P pirates, the file-sharing population remained generally stagnant (with the interesting exception of a spike in October 2003.) From that point, approximately 3.8 million individuals were participating on various P2P networks.

The P2P population would continue its fast rate of growth, hitting 9 million individuals between June and July of 2005. According to BigChampagne’s data, the P2P population hit a zenith of 9.992 million in March of 2006. Just when it appeared the P2P population was about to hurl itself past 10 million, it instead has remained stagnant – even showing some decline as of September's data.

OMG Slyck does that mean P2P is losing?!111

It’s important to understand what P2P networks BigChampagne examines and the demographical shift in the P2P population. If we look at BigChampagne’s data, the P2P population has remained within the confines of 9 million users since July of 2005. After the successful forced shutdown of SuprNova in December 2004, the concept of BitTorrent swept through the Internet. SuprNova’s successors, such as ThePirateBay, became the focal points of growth and resulted in the mammoth network existing today.

But Slyck, doesn’t BigChampagne’s numberz consolidate for BitTorrent traffic?

You mean compensate? Actually, BigChampagne does not take into consideration the BitTorrent community when compiling its statistics. So the numbers witnessed are the combined total of networks like Gnutella, FastTrack, Ares, DC++, and to some extent, eDonkey2000.

Well why not?

You would have to ask BigChampagne, but probably for the same reason no longer compiles P2P statistics. Because P2P traffic is infrequently administered from a centralized server or location, plugging specific or even approximate numbers has grown extremely difficult. With the arrival of DHT (Distributed Hash Tables) within the BitTorrent community, gathering network statistics has become a somewhat more reasonable venture.

According to BitTorrent President Ashwin Navin, the Mainline DHT network population in June 2006 was approximately 5 million, while Azureus hovered at 1 million individuals. Even when examining DHT traffic, it’s important to note that not everyone runs DHT when plugged into the BitTorrent community.

But what does it all mean Basil?

The trends reflected on BigChampagne’s latest P2P statistics clearly show the file-sharing community has shifted away from older file-sharing applications/networks and adopted BitTorrent for their mainstream informational needs. The file-sharing community obviously still values networks such as Gnutella for quick MP3s; however the change is analogous to the US population shift from the rust belt to the sunshine belt - more people, but just not in the same traditional location.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
File-Sharing/P2P Related :: Statistics/Analysis

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