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Personal P2P Getting Hot

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First there was Grouper, and then came services like Hamachi. Both have been successful, but a new breed of personal peer to peer file sharing start-ups are coming to market with their solutions, and a renewed focus on ease of use. I wrote about three of those start-ups – Pando, Perenety and Wired Reach – for my column on Business 2.0/CNN Money, and pointed out that they have made personal file share as easy as email.

And now it is time to meet two new entrants. One is Zapr, which till recently was called Zingee. Now I have not tried this service because it currently works on Windows only (made with dot.Net actually,) but I have heard some good things about them. They ask you to add the email addresses of your friends (individuals or groups) and then drag-and-drop the file on to the window that pops up. Your friends get the email and download it via a browser.

Michael Liubinskas, Zapr head of marketing and business development wrote in an email that, “we’ve just launched an invite only beta, so if you’d like a sneak peek, then let me know. We are launching a new GUI with some network improvements in about four weeks.” In case you get to check them out, and let me know about your experience, I would be glad to post your thoughts at the end of this post.

The other company that just launched is PeerFactor, which is based in Paris, France. Users upload a file to our servers and get a link to share with their friends by email. If only a few people are downloading the file, then the downloads happen through a browser. However, if there is a lot of people downloading the same file, the company says you need a tiny P2P client, called PeerFactor Provider, that is about 69 kilobytes in size. (I need Jeff Clavier’s help here, since the site is in French.) The company wants to target the email providers and telecom operators to offer them a OEM type solution.

As I had said earlier, the rise of these start-ups is in response to the ever-growing size of files – videos, photos, documents and Powerpoint presentations. It is becoming difficult to send attachments as e-mail servers tend to flag anything with a big attachment. Is there a big business in these services? I am not so sure, but as always your feedback is welcome. [Personally I would love for Diego to bring back Clever Cactus.]

20 Responses to “Personal P2P Getting Hot”

  1. Moving large files in private networks continues to heat up, we started on this path 5 years ago with an application called SpinXpress, lets you create a private invitation network for sharing files directly between peers. There is a major demand for keeping private what is ours to share. Great to see the validation on the market.

  2. Um…, why exactly is anyone calling those services mentioned above p2p? (peerfactor and zapr) If you send a file to a server (eg. a web-server) with a client (eg. a web-browser), and someone else uses a client to get the file from the server, then by definition what you have is a client-server model, not peer-to-peer.

    If you sent the file over MSN, yahoo, etc you could argue that its p2p as the file moves directly from your computer to your friends (between two peers – hence peer to peer), however most IM networks are still considered client-server as you can’t even login to MSN without the MSN servers running.

    IMHO “personal p2p” should be technologies like waste, where small groups of people can setup private file-sharing networks between themselves.

  3. Personal P2P (P4?) might soon be more important than regular P2P networks. It models more closely how we work as a society, especially an Internet based one.

    One important marketing issue: the barrier to entry to those app is really low. This is why so many start-up have been born.

    The socioeconomics is quite close tocial (MySpace, Friendster,…) and IM (AIM, MSN,…) softwares. The winner takes all?

    One last points: MSN Messenger offer a shared directory with one of your contact. You put a file there, your contact has it.

    Does this mean the grown-ups are already entering this market? Is this already the end of those start-ups?

    Probably not, but they need to think less of technology (and an easy one to master) and more about which market they want (cf. Groove and its position on collaboration application).

  4. I have been using for a while now which runs as a web-service. But sometimes I have faced file corruption issues when transferring large files. Torrent is a better way for larger files but it has its own issues. I would prefer that these companies use browser as their client rather than another installable.

  5. has been in this space for quite a while as has the Ray Ozzie vehicle (Groove), which was acquired by MSFT. I’m not sure what really happened to Groove since the acquisition. Strangely, it doesn’t seem to get nearly as much press attention since it went into the MS Office/collaboration space.

  6. Hi Om,

    I work with a company that has built a p2p app on Firefox/Mozilla called Civil Netizen. I normally don’t spam anyones comments beyond the url next to my name but seeing that you are covering Pando, I couldn’t resist. Check us out, I am sure you won’t be disappointed with our philosophy and our application.

    The newest versions as we come out of beta will increase our use of torrent style technology.


  7. On Microsoft Groove 2007/Vista: The Achilles’ heel of all such collaboration solutions is that they require all participants to be using the same technology. Microsoft has historically been able to achieve this by bundling and giving away stuff for free but now that they actually want to use this as a reason to upgrade, they will face some adoption challenges. Also, we are increasingly living in a non-windows oriented world (I know the numbers are still largely in favor for Microsoft) where the lowest common denominator is no longer windows but the web.

  8. Om, not sure if you have checked out Microsoft Groove 2007, which will be part of the office suite. We have started testing it at my office and its pretty slick (the beta). It seems like microsoft is jumping on this one.

  9. gerald

    i had heard that there was a built in bittorrent client/technology in the forthcoming version of osx but i am not sure if it is happening or now. if i hear anything, i would post an update. i think it be used by the them for distribution more than anything else. off load some of the costs associated with the distribution. my thoughts, but don’t know anything for a fact.

  10. Om, have you heard any more about P2P being hardwired into Leopard? Just curious… Wouldn’t that be cool!? I’ve gotta believe Apple’s got a P2P play up their sleeve with all the video files they’re about to unleash… How’s that play out with DRM factored tho? Or, does it matter?