Will BitTorrent be the New Facebook?

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BitTorrent has brand spanking new offices in San Francisco's multimedia corridor and the company is undergoing a massive makeover with a new user-friendly interface, simplified controls and a renewed sense of purpose.
BitTorrent, founded by BitTorrent protocol inventor Bram Cohen and venture capitalist Ashwin Nevin in 2004, on Thursday launched Chrysalis, a beta version of new personal content channels that leverage the company's huge, if unheralded in the mainstream, share of the global file-sharing industry.

The platform lets users create social channels where they can share videos, photos and other content via the BitTorrent and uTorrent clients that have an 80 percent share of the torrent market, according to the company.

The BitTorrent protocol moves up to 40 percent of all Internet traffic, Shahi Ghanem, BitTorrent's chief strategist, told PCMag this week. But the company needs to shed its reputation as just a download manager (albeit a really powerful download manager) that's mainly used by technically savvy users.

Enter Chrysalis, which replaces the maze of folders and codecs that current torrent users must navigate with a UI that's got big, simple buttons and the clean lines of a Facebook page. The beta project lets users find content on the Internet via the torrent network, view or play it without having to search around for software, and pass it along to friends and fans, Ghanem said.

That's not exactly revolutionary but BitTorrent's value proposition is that it's uniquely positioned to let users move really huge files like videos without sacrificing quality or taking a really long time to do it. Plus there are no downloading limits.

"It's the only network in the world that actually gets faster as more people use it," Ghanem said.

Another "800-pound gorilla" that BitTorrent constantly has to address is the torrent network's association with the sharing of illegal content, Ghanem said. The U.S. Copyright Group and other plaintiff organizations have in recent months stepped up their legal efforts to seek damages from torrent users who commit copyright infringements in sharing files.

As the curator of the BitTorrent protocol and the developer of the BitTorrent and uTorrent clients, BitTorrent the company isn't responsible for what users do on the torrent network, just as Google isn't held accountable for content users can access through its Chrome browser.

Still, the stigma remains. But Ghanem said the way people use the torrents is evolving away from the piracy and pornography that helped fuel their growth. Independent artists are eager to reach the massive audiences the torrent network can supply, he said, while ordinary consumers are now able to produce things like HD video that they want to share with friends and family.

One potential sticking point for Chrysalis is that it doesn't let users wall off their channels. That means that anything you put on your media channel would be publicly available to all users of the platform, even though it would be tough to find if you didn't promote it.

Ghanem said BitTorrent had the ability to create closed channels and might do so in future releases.

"Right now we just want to see what users want to do with this and we'll go from there," he said.

Posted by Alain.co @ Saturday, 14 May 2011 0 comments

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