The Balkanization of BitTorrent

The recent rain of venture cash on Torrent-related start-ups and other P2P companies is a sign that the market is girding for a major showdown. Mark Cuban had once noted that the “conflicts between different clients might turn users off BitTorrent completely” and he makes a good point. Traditionally the competition amongst Torrent clients was around features, but the main functionality was universal. The problem, as Janko Roettgers points out, is that now start-ups are using the protocol, and as a result there is a plethora of clients that are not interoperable, and are leading to what he describes as the balkanization of BitTorrent, “with clients fighting over filetype associations and vendors introducing one proprietary feature after another.” Continue reading