Mobile BitTorrent!

Torrent clients to be available on cellphones.

By on December 27th, 2006 15:55 GMT
Yes, this just might be the way mobile users will get content on their handsets and some of you will finally be able to say good bye to the content services provided by the carriers all over the world. Where did the rumor start from? After the announcement that BitTorrent Inc. has bought the well known torrent client µTorrent, Bram Cohen, the creator of BitTorrent, together with Ludvig (Ludde) Strigeus, the coder behind the µTorrent, have published a forum announcement through which they have expressed their intention of expanding the torrent phenomenon to other types of platforms, including cellphones and other non-PC platforms.

If you still don't know what torrents are and how they function, then I will describe you how this works in a very short manner. The torrent clients connect through a peer-to-peer file distribution protocol and by breaking the files to be shared into a lot of small blocks, they transfer them between a distributed swarm of torrent clients.

What should you understand from this short description? The most important thing is that the download speeds increase dramatically when more people download a file at the same time, a fact that will probably give you the impression of a paradox.

But it's not the case because, unlike ordinary distribution protocols where the files have to be hosted on a server, when one is talking about how the torrent protocol actually works, it won't mention any type of server because the files are being sent from client to client without the need of a central brain to coordinate all the transactions between all the different computers interconnected through the peer-to-peer protocol. It seems pretty complex but believe me, once you grasp the basics of what a torrent really is, you won't have any problems using such a client.

Returning to the main subject, just think what will happen when the BitTorrent clients almost everyone uses each day will migrate to the cellphones. It will probably be the end of the content delivery systems provided by the carriers and also an easy way to get whatever you want onto your mobile phone by simply searching for it on the multitude of websites that are indexing as we speak the multitude of torrents created by the huge amount of users around the world.

Wondering what the post I mentioned above sounds like? Well, this is what they declared (at least the migrating to other platforms part): "Moving forward behind the scenes, we will continue to develop µTorrent and will be using the codebase in other applications, especially ones where a fast, lightweight implementation is more suitable, such as embedded systems on TVs, cell phones, and other non-PC platforms".

Therefore, making a guess, the future mobile torrent clients to be released by BitTorrent Inc. will very likely be some kind of Java applications, a format that at this date is compatible with most mobile platforms roaming out in the wild.

However, if they will decide to go for the more advanced solution and develop apps specifically for every software platform available on the mobile phones, this is another reason for us to rejoice because this means everyone will get its own customized version.

On a more realistic side of the story, quite obvious for the ones of you that know some things about what happened on the torrent "market" in 2006, the fact that BitTorrent Inc. has signed a deal with the movie industry could affect very seriously the clients going to arrive on the mobile phones all over the world because one of the things movie giants are very well experienced at is to implement DRM software in everything they get their hands on. Doesn't sound that good after all, does it?

But still, there is no reason to get all scared about it because as you have already found out, the only client that BitTorrent Inc. bought for now is µTorrent, a client that many torrent users consider the best one available at the moment, but even if the best has fallen in the malefic hands of the DRM fathers, there are still a lot of other clients available out there.

Hopefully, they will make the same decision and will at least try to go mobile so the mobile users will have the occasion to use a DRM-free piece of code. Hopefully!

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