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Summary:

With all of the excitement around online video and distributing digital content, you’d think peer-to-peer systems would be smack in the middle of things. But yesterday, when we visited a small conference for P2P companies, there was little of the excitement found elsewhere in the industry. […]

With all of the excitement around online video and distributing digital content, you’d think peer-to-peer systems would be smack in the middle of things. But yesterday, when we visited a small conference for P2P companies, there was little of the excitement found elsewhere in the industry. It seems P2P, despite its being both efficient and entrenched, is still sorely in need of a business model.

At the conference, lawyers and an MPAA rep spoke of harsher legal precedents for hosting unauthorized content; CacheLogic and BigChampagne reiterated that P2P traffic is growing; Kontiki (now owned by VeriSign) said its long-planned distribution deal with the BBC still won’t be live till next year.

There was a token guy bragging about a new anonymous open P2P network, and a bunch of people talking about using advertising and marketing tools to support filesharing (we wrote about another such effort, Skyrider, yesterday). Sony exec Mitch Singer stopped by to discuss an multi-device token system for using your own content that he says he’s been working on for four years.

The legit P2P efforts such as StreamCast, iMesh, Mashboxx, and Wurld Media were apparently not in attendance. They didn’t come up in conversation except to contemplate StreamCast’s recent court loss (over an older version of its software).

Meanwhile, away from the conference, BitTorrent announced some small deals to incorporate its software into routers and said its long-planned big content store also won’t be up till next year. Same old, same old. What happened, guys? How come P2P didn’t get to come to the party?

  1. Cheap bandwidth, online videos and itunes, thats what happened to P2P.

    Something like youtube wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago unless it used P2P, now its possible to serve up millions of videos a day and make a profit.

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  2. The good P2P business model is hardware device based, that is a business case for Nokia, Apple, Sony or Microsoft Windows.

    With P2P software, you deport much of the value to the users’ devices thus :
    You augment the value of your products.
    You create network effects if your P2P apps have some kind of stickiness to your products.

    The third argument could be more interesting : in a bundle strategy where you sold high margin products with complementary services @ zero margin (ex: iTunes+iPod) the P2P model allows you to reduce the cost center of providing the services by swapping costy infrastructure.

    Peer-to-peer should thus be the flagship of device vendors. Unfortunately, in this “browser is everything” and “google centralised so cool” epoch, device guys don’t seem to understand this.

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  3. You need to look at how porn companies are using P2P, they seem to be on the for front

    Jay

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  4. Porn & piracy.

    Not usual fodder for investor speculation, but the former is using p2p effectively to some degree, and the latter doesn’t really care if there’s a business model or not…

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  5. P2P is very much a “plumbing” technology, it’s a particular way of distributing information that has it’s own sets of tradeoffs.

    If you want to find what the business model for P2P is look at World of Warcraft, they distribute all of their updates with a custom P2P application.

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  6. P2P streaming has a future…if you believe in “The Venice Project”. Stream sharing is advertsing-friendly because the content is perishable. Ads in streams can be customized for content, location, daypart, etc. If the content producers and copyright holders are protected, they promote the technology rather than fight it. At least that’s our story and we’re sticking with it.

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  7. Wurld Media is not a member of the DCIA and are busy tieing up even more deals to get more content on more devices in more markets for thier Peer Impact product .
    They also dont go to that many conferences unless one of thier people are asked to speak or attend .
    Greg Kerber the CEO of Wurld Media went to Washington last year to Speak to the Congression Comerce Committee about the implications of the Grokster decision so it does not seem that he needs a lobby group to talk to the politians on his behalf .

    http://commerce.senate.gov/archive.grokster072805.ram

    Mashboxx and its founder Wayne Russo doesnt need a lobby group either, Wayne talks to the RIAA folks directly and Wayne posted just yesterday on p2pnet.ca expalining what he has been up to and his relationship with the RIAA and its executive .

    http://p2pnet.ca/seedBlogs.php?action=displaypost&postid=jon11616065110&showauthor=0&showdate=1

    The DCIA is just a self serving group of old p2p comapnines going nowhere .

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  8. If you want sucessfull inovatave bussiness models you dont go to the DCIA P2P Summit to Find them .The DCIA serves as the primary lobby group for Sharman Networks the owners of Kazza and thier spyware/adware based bussiness model is 5 years old and has been efectivly dismanteled by the Grokster decision.Now Sharman Networks is just a Brand for the RIAA and MPAA to utilise to distribute content after they settles for 20 Million .

    Maybe you should take a good look at the work being done by Red Swoosh (not really a content service though) ,GridNetworks ,NFT ,WurldMedia and in the near future Mashboxx .It will be the most efficent and secure technology p2p technology that will suceed in this space and not the brand name .

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  9. For the record, GridNetworks VP of Sales and Marketing IS attending Digital Hollywood in Santa Monica this week. Though we are not exhibiting or speaking, we are taking a lot of meetings down there.

    To be honest, many P2P companies, save for Verisign/Kontiki, are small and agile companies that probably don’t need go to the conferences as much as bigger companies that don’t have the nimbleness of the small companies like ours that you mention.

    So on behalf of the smaller P2P companies you mention – we are here and working hard and we – and from what I hear, our competitors – are all making a lot of deals right now.

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  10. To Ma, Matt, Newell, and others,

    We’re happy to look elsewhere for good news about P2P business models. I am down at Digital Hollywood right now. Email me anytime (first name at gigaom dot com).

    Liz

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