BitTorrent is the most widely used peer-to-peer filesharing protocol. It's estimated BitTorrent is responsible for 35% of all internet traffic today. Since it's conception by creator Bram Cohen, BitTorrent been known and used for piracy of files such as movies, television shows, and music. However, legal options have always been available. In fact, Cohen created BitTorrent to remain legal, and he hopes to further relationships with media companies and hardware developers to distribute their content.
Today you can use BitTorrent to download just about any TV show or movie you want for free and without commercials. They'll be stored on you computer's hard drive, ready to watch whenever you want. Think about it as free TiVo on your PC or free video on demand. Of course, there are obvious limitations: you could get in legal trouble, and who wants to watch movies on their computer monitor anyway?
As this technology continues to grow and mature, we'll move past these limitations, and BitTorrent will become a major legal distributor of video content, it will be a major competitor to TiVo and TV networks. Soon, we will be downloading our favorite tv shows from BitTorrent right on your television set. More and more homes will be hooked up to BitTorrent just like they're hooked up to cable TV.
What steps are being for this to be possible? BitTorrent's relationship with media companies is continually growing and evolving. Media companies see an obvious value in the BitTorrent community: extremely low cost or free distribution of their content. This low overhead cost will keep costs down, and the savings will trickle down to consumers. Using BitTorrent, content distribution companies can easily undercut services like TiVo and even cable TV by charging less.
Also, a company called Iadea Corp. is producing BitTorrent optimized microprocessor chip that will be implemented to everyday consumer electronics like DVD players and television sets. The chip will be available to system designers in Q1 of 2007. What does this mean? BitTorrent will effectively be available to to everyday consumers, legally distributed content will be downloaded by millions up people, and of course, uploaded by those same millions of people. Quality and speed will skyrocket very quickly.
But will people pay for BitTorrent even when free options exist all over the web? Yes, I believe so. First of all, a relatively small number of people are using BitTorrent. The market is under utilized. Though many people use BitTorrent, only a fraction of people who watch TV shows or movies are using it to obtain their content. This means, once BitTorrent is available through everyday consumer electronics, millions more will be exposed to the network and millions will be made into customers. People already using BitTorrent will be enticed because it will be legal and the selection and quality of content will be on a much grander scale.
Can BitTorret compete with TiVo? No problem. They will also be competing directly with cable and satellite companies. TiVo requires a monthly subscription fee, must be connected to a cable or satellite network, and can only record what is on TV. With BitTorrent, consumers (hopefully) will be able to choose between a monthly all-access fee or an ala carte plan. Consumer's will not necessarily need a cable TV hookup, just broadband internet access, so you may even be able to cancel your TV service to save even more! Also, a huge and unprecedented amount of content is available through BitTorrent: TV shows, movies, video blogs, music, and all sorts of content anyone can make at home and then distribute for free. I predict BitTorrent is capable of being the number one distributor of multimedia content sooner rather than later.
So when all this happen? Who knows, but it seems to be on the fast track. Hopefully within five years major producers of consumer electronics will be including BitTorrent in their products. And from there it will grow extremely fast and become an everyday experience to millions of people.