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Google Takes a Pro File Sharing Stance
January 11, 2007
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With Google's recent investment in Chinese company Xunlei Network Technology Ltd, they have unequivocally taken a stance that is pro file sharing. Xunlei is the developer and creator of the Thunderbolt “Download Accelerator”, which in the style of GetRight or Flashget supports multi-source downloading and resumption if the transfer is interrupted. What hasn't been adequately reported are the details of what Thunderbolt in fact is, a P2P file sharing application or P2SP("S" for server).

Xunlei is a web portal first, but also produces the widely used Chinese P2P application which now includes a new Google tool bar installation option during setup. Google search is now also a prominent option on the portal. It’s probable that Google is hoping to crack the second biggest online search market, of which they are a small player, by leveraging the over 100 million users estimated to have downloaded Thunderbolt in China.

After installing the Thunderbolt P2SP client, the end user is greeted with a fairly slick interface. Despite the animated advertising and banner ads, links to the latest media are prominent on the interface's main page. These links in the format “url=thunder://QUFodHR..../,” are reminiscent of BitTorent and include the typical meta data and a hash of the file in question. Right from the installation of Thunder, the purpose of the application is apparent. Upon opening of the Thunderbolt P2SP application the user is greeted with thumbnails of the latest releases in the right hand menu from which a couple of key presses will garner one a Thunder link to a file outright which is then automatically loaded into the Thunder client. The extent of the content available on the Thunder network is typical of most file-sharing networks; movies, music, applications and so on.

The Thunderbolt application itself features a sharing aspect and utilizes web caches to aid in accelerating downloads. Other features include streaming video, ala YouTube-like video streams, integrated chat and a ratings feature as well as built-in media playing functionality. Once the end user gets over the animated advertising and browser pop ups inherent in the client, it actually functions rather efficiently.

The impetus behind the client is to facilitate multi-source downloads to gain maximum download speeds within the underdeveloped Internet infrastructure currently in place in China. The current infrastructure closely resembles North America's dial-up heavy populous a decade ago - including the advertising model of pop ups and animated graphics, but with modern-day tools.

In short, Xunlei, sponsored by Google, is acting much like a typical file sharing network; they are facilitating the aggregating and locating of material via their Thunderbolt application, then creating and releasing free of charge the application with which to download copyrighted content and acting as a tracker for others with the same file including the unauthorized use of web caches containing the file. Xunlei is much more than just a streaming video company - that is certain.

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

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