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5 Billion Files
June 21, 2008
Thomas Mennecke
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In the time it takes to write an article, millions of files fly across the BitTorrent community. Since BitTorrent is more of a protocol rather than a singular and organized network, placing an exact number on files shared or downloaded is nearly impossible. Gauging that number is somewhat easier for P2P networks, where it's estimated that at least 1 billion files are traded per month.

1 billion files is a significant number, but that's a number that only includes the P2P networks that managed to survive the litigation rich portion of this decade. Who's left? Not much; Gnutella, eDonkey2000, Ares Galaxy and a myriad of smaller communities such as WinMX, DirectConnect, OpenNap and what remains of FastTrack. Considering the legal onslaught that preceded the arrival of BitTorrent, 1 billion files remains impressive.

Determining BitTorrent's contribution is much more difficult. But to place BitTorrent's supremacy into perspective, consider the following. It's approximated that the total P2P population is between 9-10 million sharing 1 billion files monthly. The Pirate Bay, Sweden's largest P2P tracker, is currently supporting nearly 11 million peers. The Pirate Bay is an impressive tracker, however doesn’t represent an overwhelming fraction of the entire community. Additional to the large populations such as The Pirate Bay, there are many smaller, private sub-communities that don’t share or publish statistical information. The private community OiNK, for example, had an impressive user base of nearly 200,000 individuals.

Regardless of the number of files traded per month over all file-sharing communities, it’s a number that iTunes would love to have. According to a recent study by the IFPI, file-sharing’s overwhelming popularity advantage was confirmed when it was found that “unauthorized” downloads outgunned iTunes 20:1. One could only imagine the revenue potential if that 20:1 ratio was in Apple’s favor.

In any case, the big news from Apple is the arrival of 5 billion downloads for iTunes. After launching in April of 2003, the amount of time between each billion increase has decreased. iTunes just reached the 4 billion download barrier in February, and only four months later, hit 5 billion. Yet in that amount of time, many more billions were traded via BitTorrent and P2P.

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Authorized Music Store :: iTunes

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