the buzz around new P2P company Skyrider at the end of last week. While it's hard to say whether Skyrider is truly innovative, seeing as they don't actually have a product on the market yet (it's due "in the fall"), they are making interesting noises about commercializing P2P.In my search for innovative web and Internet applications, I noted
In particular Skyrider states in its press release that "P2P has the potential to be the dominant network architecture of this century" - which of course Skyrider is poised to take advantage of. This is echoed by Tim O'Reilly on his blog, in which he likens Skyrider's potential to that of Google:
"Just as Google crystallized a new vision of how to monetize the web, leading to the explosion of innovation that we now call Web 2.0, Skyrider is building technologies that could bring a rich new commercial ecosystem to P2P."
Those are big claims, especially as the dominant network architecture currently is the client-server model of the Web (i.e. one to many). P2P is about many-to-many distribution and has so far been most useful for distributing music and other large multimedia files. And when it comes to video and audio, I don't think many would argue that P2P is more efficient than a client-server model - as long as it's managed well.
Other P2P contenders
Perhaps Skyrider will be the platform to bring P2P to the fore again, but there are others in the game too - like Red Swoosh (TechCrunch review here), AllPeers (the Firefox plug-in), Enfra (a Korean app founded by Hyung Yong Jun, the guy behind Cyworld - hat-tip Danny for the info), open source Dijjer, and let's not forget the BitTorrent network.
Note that there is a difference between a P2P network (like BitTorrent) and a P2P client (like KaZaA). I can't claim to fully understand this market, but Zeropaid.com has more info if you're interested:
"P2P clients like Grokster, KaZaA, Linewire, Morpheus and eDonkey do not make a P2P network; they only allow the user to connect to an existing network by using common protocols. There are a large number of P2P networks out there: Gnutella, Gnutella 2, Ares, FastTrack, eDonkey2000, BitTorrent and even Freenet. Clients are applications used to connect to those networks. [...]"
Skype's P2P success
Skype (Tim referenced them in his post). Developed by the same people who created KaZaA, the music-sharing P2P network that recently went 'legit', Skype calls itself "the first P2P telephony network". They claim P2P has enabled them to raise call completion rates and call quality "to levels exceeding that of POTS (“Plain Old Telephony System”)".An example of a P2P success story in the '2.0' era of the Web is
Summary - untapped P2P market
I have no doubt that P2P networks will be vitally important in our increasingly networked world of media. Early P2P pioneers like Napster and KaZaA have now 'gone clean', after years of overbearing pressure from the music industry. Likewise the movie and tv industry has been keeping a close eye on video-sharing websites. But beyond all that fear and loathing by media companies, there is a largely untapped market for media search and distribution via the Internet.
So are we at a turning point on the Web, where P2P comes into serious play again? I think we are and this will be one area of innovation to look out for. Contact me if you know of a current innovative P2P technology doing big things on the Web.