Recently, we’ve published a detailed review of the TRON blockchain mentioning that the project has purchased BitTorrent and was about to conduct an ICO. The initial coin offering, supported by the genius of marketing Justin Sun, took place on January 28th, 2019, and was finished in only 20 minutes having gathered 7,2 million USD – just like many ICOs did in the good old 2017.
And while most of the internet users are familiar with BitTorrent, it’s still not very clear what it’s got to do with the blockchain and how Justin Sun is going to monetize this free file-sharing platform. We’ve decided to make our own investigation and answer these questions.
The history of BitTorrent
Ever since the boom of the internet technologies at the beginning of the new century, the market was ruled by such IT giants as Microsoft and Apple. The rights for most popular pieces of software were monopolized leading to the high prices that users were unwilling to pay. The same issue applied to movies, music, books and all other sorts of intellectual property. The pirated content was literally flooding the web, although there was no convenient technology to share and download big files.
The year 2004 was the turning point as this was exactly when BitTorrent introduced the new technology to the market. With BitTorrent, it has become possible to exchange files of big size (1 Gb and more) hassle-free. Torrents gave the green light to the pirates of all sorts and the technology quickly gained popularity among users across the globe as it made their lives so much easier.
Governments in different countries had been trying to block torrents, issuing numerous laws that simply didn’t work because it’s impossible to regulate a decentralized technology. You can come to the head office of Microsoft, apply the brute force and make it obey your laws. But trying to force many small participants of a huge decentralized network – come on, it’s just a utopia!
BitTorrent: wide coverage, no monetization
The company itself states that it is content-agnostic, by the way. They don’t care if users share pirated films or adult content, they simply develop the technology. And this is exactly what brought it to the edge of the bankruptcy. The technology itself is really great, but how to make money with its help when your main idea is based on free access to information?
BitTorrent is the most popular protocol for file-sharing nowadays. The size of the community defies imagination making up 250 million people worldwide. BitTorrent itself has a 100-million share while the rest belongs to different products that are based on this protocol.
And still, no ideas on how to monetize such a huge army of followers.
A new life for an almost dead project
Now BitTorrent is purchased by TRON. The crypto community makes jokes about Justin Sun planning to revive a few other dinosaurs of the past decade. But is it really so bad?
First, it’s worth saying that BitTorrent itself is already decentralized. Whenever you launch a torrent client to download a file, the program gathers it piece-by-piece from multiple users all over the world that share this very file. There is no centralized storage where it is kept. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel for this technology as it’s been steadily working for almost two decades already.
Second, unlike most of ICOs conducted in 2017 on the tide of Bitcoin’s success, BitTorrent has a real working product behind it with a huge audience of supporters.
Now add a tool for easy communication between users and a tool for exchanging values into this cocktail and get the biggest cryptocurrency that has ever existed. This is where a true mass adoption is to begin.
New crypto features for BitTorrent
According to BitTorrent’s white paper, here’s what changes await the project now that it has become an integral part of TRON.
- BTT wallets
All BitTorrent users will get BTT wallets to receive a reward for sharing the files. Also, wallets will provide them with a mechanism to spend the earned tokens. These TRX10-based tokens will be easily converted to TRX for quick withdrawal on any exchange.
The main problem with BitTorrent’s current state is that people have no stimulus to continuously share downloaded files. Typically, users download a file, and then immediately delete it from the sharing list. The only reason why they don’t do this is the philanthropy.
The new approach provides users with a monetary stimulus. While the gains will not be very high with popular files, users will be able to make much more when sharing rare content that is not so easily found on the web (e.g. Italian pop of the 30s).
- Payments on the blockchain
There are no plans of moving the whole BitTorrent system to the blockchain. Even with the capacity provided by TRON (~2,000 transactions per second), it will be impossible as the system requires much higher throughput indices. And also don’t forget the number 1 rule of the IT world: don’t touch a working product.
The blockchain will be used for payments, though. All transactions between users will occur on a peer-to-peer basis with the lightning speed and near to zero fees.
- Airdrop for the new users
This is what TRON plans to add to its product later. Free BTT tokens would give new users an incentive to join the new monetization model instead of simply downloading the files for their needs.
Justin Sun has got his hands on a very complex project with a long history full of survival dramas. We are yet to see whether he manages to revive it and bring it to the new heights.
There are still many questions and logic gaps that need to be fulfilled. For example, users may substitute the files that they share and still make money on those who download these files. Of course, angry users will post their comments below for others to know that it’s a fake, but they won’t be able to get a chargeback. There is no solution to this problem as there is no central party to govern the system.
BitTorrent is just as controversial as TRON and only time will show what will come out of these two projects’ union.