When peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing applications were first introduced the mantra by many to those in the recording industry was, “If you can’t adapt, perhaps you shouldn’t compete.”
With applications like SETI@home demonstrating the power of grid-computing and Napster, later Kazaa and Bit Torrent showing the popularity of P2P…it seemed like only a matter of time before the technology would impact the development of corporate applications or that someone would figure out a viable model for distributing content, gaming applications, or even audio using P2P.
Brian Boyko of Network Performance Daily cited an article about corporate P2P that appeared in Network World in 2005 after Microsoft’s acquisition of Groove Networks, “One of Microsoft’s stated intentions is to add Groove’s P2P technology to its next-generation operating system called Longhorn. With Longhorn’s arrival on the desktop and server, Microsoft may single-handedly redistribute and accelerate corporate bandwidth demand…Be forewarned, get educated and be prepared for the network implications of corporate IT P2P applications. The corporate next-generation network future may be just around the corner in 2006.”
In addition to business applications in 2005 there was also plenty of talk in the gaming world. The New Scientist reported on efforts to develop a more robust gaming platform involving P2P, “Multiplayer online games could be made more robust and immersive by using peer-to-peer (P2P) networking to let players store part of a virtual universe on their own computer. Researchers say blending P2P networking – best known for letting people find and share music and video files online – with online gaming could make virtual worlds more stable and, eventually, more expandable.”
Instead of people riding the peer-to-peer tidal wave, Apple iTunes has emerged as the primary profitable force for obtaining audio files, Microsoft remains mum on the P2P subject, and no online gaming site has really emerged outside of a few token efforts. Skype might be the only real example of a successful P2P venture. It’s interesting how the once powerful force that has hastened the decline of some models for distributing media content really hasn’t caused new business models to emerge that embrace it.