BitTorrent is by far the most popular way to transfer large files over the Internet, but where will it be five years from now? To get some answers to this question TorrentFreak asked the admins of Mininova, The Pirate Bay, IsoHunt and TorrentSpy what they think the future holds for BitTorrent and their websites.
It’s hard to predict the future, especially when it comes to technology. However, that didn’t put us off and we gave it a shot. We asked the people behind the 4 largest BitTorrent sites on the Internet to tell us how they envision the future of BitTorrent.
Despite the differences these four guys sometimes have, they all believe that no other P2P protocol performs better than BitTorrent at the moment. However, there’s no doubt that there will be changes in the future.
“Technology is always evolving and I have little doubt that 5 or 10 years from now we will be using a different protocol” says Justin from TorrentSpy. Peter (aka Brokep) from The Pirate Bay also thinks new protocols will take over eventually. “There will be other alternatives,” he said “Not necessarily ours but others will come.” Niek from mininova has more faith in BitTorrent but expects that the protocol will evolve rapidly, an opinion shared by Gary from IsoHunt.
Most of the admins also predict that mainstream production companies will eventually embrace BitTorrent and P2P and some of them hope to play an active role in the transition from old to new media distribution. Below you can read the full responses to the question I asked them: What do you think the future holds for BitTorrent and your website?
Niek from Mininova
I’m sure that we’ll see quite a few changes in the P2P landscape during the next couple of years.
From a business perspective, I notice that content producers recognize more and more the advantages of P2P distribution models (see e.g. the Pariah Island case). We all know that DRM is close-to-death, and major studios are now rethinking their business models, which is a good thing. We’d like to see Mininova play a major role in this shift, so stay tuned for some related announcements the coming weeks :)
Looking at the technical side of things, I expect that the BitTorrent protocol will evolve rapidly. See for example (audio and video) streaming, which is already possible and supported by several clients. Other interesting developments are BT-capable chips and TOR-like functionality. New protocols (like the one proposed by The Pirate Bay) might arise, but only time will tell whether these will substitute BitTorrent. Personally, I think BitTorrent can go a long way with some extensions and modifications.
Having said that, Mininova’s only focus won’t be BitTorrent: when the “next big thing” arises, we’ll definitely consider backing it.
Justin from TorrentSpy
I don’t really concern myself with the future of BitTorrent the protocol but I do care about peer-to-peer as a technology platform. Technology is always evolving and I have little doubt that 5 or 10 years from now we will be using a different protocol. However I firmly believe that the use of peer-to-peer for everything from data transfer to shared CPU power will take the Internet to the next level.
If we look at TV you will already see this trend. Media use in our society is transitioning from someone else deciding what you want (push) to something that allows what you want, when you want it (pull). Right now you turn the TV on at 8pm to watch your favorite show or skip channels until you stumble across something interesting. The future is a demand system where you can buy and watch an episode the network has “released” any time you want. Tivo is a first step in this direction.
Surprising as it may seem, this can be done pretty easily today, but is tied up in complex licensing schemes, conflicts between producers and distributors, and a wide array of selfish interests. Unfortunately many companies use their power and influence to halt and punish innovations they cannot think of ways to make money with. The monopolies tried to stop the VHS, DVD, and MP3 player, but thankfully failed when they took it to Court. Now Imagine for a second all the amazing products they did manage to squashâ€¦
Gary from IsoHunt
With so much momentum of content behind BitTorrent, I don’t see it going away anytime soon. Unless there’s a far superior and open protocol that is superior to BitTorrent in efficiency and convenience, for which BitTorrent is pretty hard to beat, I see we’ll like have new developments by extending the existing BitTorrent protocol. Although Bram Cohen talked about Merkle trees as a major revision in improving BitTorrent, and that didn’t go anywhere (at least not in open source). When BitTorrent Inc. do significant enough closed source changes to the protocol, BitTorrent will fork or new open protocols will rise.
For future of BitTorrent sites and IsoHunt, I’ve always been an advocate of open and public access. The more sites try to go underground, the more reasons the authority think there’s something dark at work and more they will take sites down by force – Oink and other private trackers for example. I’ve been blogging about P2P and its economic sense/legitimate use cases for a while (latest one on independent music), and I believe that’s what will give BitTorrent continued adoption and acceptance as a de-facto protocol and internet standard. It’s like the WWW: if people didn’t use the early web for other purposes than for porn (which was prolific in the web’s early days), the governments might have a different view and regulations on the internet now. It’s not what copyright infringement or “piracy” may be occurring, on P2P, BitTorrent or the internet. It’s what new use cases we nurture that benefits both end users and content producers, that will correct the stigma behind P2P and BitTorrent and accelerate their acceptance. Development on isoHunt and our other sites will for sure be done with this in mind.
Peter aka Brokep from The Pirate Bay
First of all, I don’t think it’s easy to predict the future. But I do think that it’s very important to be very promiscuous when it comes to the protocols we use. BitTorrent is currently the best but this might change. There will be other alternatives, not necessarily ours but others will come.
In five years things are probably very different from today, technology wise and politically. The latter thing is the biggest issue, not the technology. I would foresee that streaming is bigger and the companies still try to frame their users to use their locked down systems, maybe not DRM but rather streamed with their clients (like the BT DNA system) which will contain other copyright protection scams.
What do you think?
It’s great to hear the opinions and predictions of the leading BitTorrent admins, but what do you think the future of BitTorrent will be? Will we be all using a new protocol 5 years from now, will BitTorrent sites change, will TV and movie producers embrace BitTorrent?
Let us know!