Limewire Embraces Online Video With Podcast Directory and BitTorrent Tracker

limecastThe makers of the popular file-sharing client Limewire have started to develop a podcast directory called LimeCast. The company is currently in the process of gathering content as well as building the actual platform, which is already online as a work-in-progress, open-source project. There hasn’t been any official announcement about the directory, but it’s safe to assume that this will eventually be integrated into the Limewire client.

That’s an interesting development for a number of reasons: The podcast directory represents Limewire’s first serious foray into the world of online video. It could also give podcasters some significant additional exposure. And finally, the P2P client may eventually help the podcasting world with essentially free bandwidth by facilitating downloads via Gnutella and BitTorrent.

Limewire’s podcast directory currently features about 100 or so podcasts. There is a page with details for every show, offering an overview about the most recent episodes as well as various options to subscribe. Users can rate and comment on shows, add tags and suggest new podcasts. Those are all fairly standard features, and there’s still a lot missing. It’s unclear, for example, how to discover content, because there’s simply no list of tags or categories to browse.

However, there are also some noteworthy features: The site offers various subscription options for each show, ranging from iTunes to Miro to a generic RSS feed. Limewire itself doesn’t currently support subscriptions for such RSS feeds, but the Limecast directory already offers the option to generate RSS feeds with so-called magnet links as well as torrent files, both of which could eventually be used by Limewire to download content via P2P.

The folks at Limewire also developed their own PHP-based Bittorrent tracker called LimeTracker to support LimeCast. The tracker is touted as a way to “broadcast your own show.” Another documents refers to it as a way to “broadcast HD for free.” It still seems to be work in progress as well, but it’s actually an open-source project, so podcasters will eventually be able to install LimeTracker on their own server.

The first traces of LimeCast and LimeTracker showed up online last summer, and the current version of the podcast directory went online earlier this month. Limewire wasn’t available for an official statement, but a company insider told me that the project is currently looking for shows to include into its directory. “We are talking to a lot of content owners and getting a lot of very enthusiastic responses,” I was told.

That enthusiasm is understandable. Limewire hasn’t been as much in the spotlight as many other P2P companies, but its client still has a significant user base. A year-old study from PCPitstop showed that the client was installed on around 17 percent of all PCs in the U.S. in early 2008. Limewire was at that time also by far the most popular P2P client with around 37 percent market share, which was about twice as much as uTorrent and the official Bittorrent client combined.