Limewire is installed on nearly 20% of all Windows PCs and little over 15% of the PCs has a BitTorrent client on it. This is concluded in the digital media desktop report from Digital Music News.
Unfortunately the report is not open for the public to read, people who are interested in the results need to pay $195 for a summary of (in my opinion) heavily confounded, and pretty much worthless statistics. Let me first start with a short summary of the report, after that I will explain some of the issues that trouble me.
The report is based on data supplied by BigChampagne and PC Pitstop. BigChampagne is a company that tracks online media, it also provides provides Billboard online music charts. PC Pitstop gathers data by “inspecting” the computers of users that try their free online virus / spyware scanners. The data used in this report are collected from Windows registry and table entries of 1.5 million PC’s through these online diagnostic tests performed by PC Pitstop.
The results. The percentages in the table indicate the install base of the P2P applications:
|Rank||Application||Installed on % Desktops|
In the report we further read that the once almighty “Kazaa family” is now only installed on 1.3% PCs. Newcomers like FrostWire and Pando are included in the report for the fist time with a 0.2% and 0.3% install rate respectively.
As said before, the usability of these figures are doubtful. Here are a few concerns. First of all, install rates do not equal usage. The fact that someone installed a P2P client does not mean that they actually use it. So the report can’t say much about the popularity of a filesharing network or application. They do not make these claims, but the way the data is presented is a bit misleading, to say the least.
For example, uTorrent is by far the most used BitTorrent client. Over 50% of the peers in an average BitTorrent swarm use uTorrent. It could be that uTorrent and BitTorrent Mainline are installed on almost an equal number of PCs, but that the BitTorrent mainline client is hardly ever used. For instance, novices may start with the mainline client, but move on to better BitTorrent clients later on.
Another remarkable point is the uTorrent data collection for this report. uTorrent doesn’t install itself, and even the installer doesn’t use the Windows registry. So how did they come up with these statistics on uTorrent then?
It is also funny to see mIRC in the top 10 of most installed filesharing application because it is so much more than this. Most people I know use mIRC for other purposes than sharing files.
The concerns raised here show that “power” is not always in numbers. They might have collected data from millions of users, but is this really valuable if you have no idea if they actually use the application? A survey among 10.000 users where you actually ask if, and how often they use these applications is probably more useful.
And on a final note, people who want to read the report, but don’t want to pay $195 might want to try Google’s backdoor. Doubtful statistics, doubtful security.