BitTorrent's spin control
The Internet changes the way the world does business, but it can't overthrow the really fundamental stuff like physics, economics--or public relations. Rarely will you see an example of switcheroo spin as deft as BitTorrent's advance announcement that it has cut deals with a number of Hollywood studios to legitimately distribute movies and TV shows.
Which studios? It's hard to know for certain, because as of Wednesday morning there was still no official announcement. But somehow, news leaked out, and outlets like news.com are reporting that the partners include Paramount Pictures, Lions Gate, 20th Century Fox, and MTV Networks. (UPDATE: There is now an official release.) Meanwhile, Om Malik, who's not even on the West Coast today, manages to report that a ton of VC cash is headed to BitTorrent. The infusion is apparently coming from Accel Partners and others, though the company won't confirm that, either.
So, bully for BitTorrent, right? Sure. But buried beneath this snowheap of positive news is a much less encouraging factlet: BitTorrent is actually delaying the launch of its legit video store until February. That means it's months late, and by the time it gets going the video download space is going to get a lot more crowded, with everybody from Apple (AAPL) to Wal-Mart (WMT) looking for a slice of that rich download pie.
Ah, you say, but BitTorrent has an advantage: It uses a peer-to-peer software distribution system which, as the more credulous wire reports put it, "allows for the transmission of large files at high speeds." To which The Browser says: Do you honestly believe that the fight for mass downloadable video is going to come down to a question of speed? As opposed to, say, pricing (BitTorrent doesn't have it yet), transferability to portable devices (ditto), branding (who?), or ease-of-use (calling Steve Jobs)? Like we said, you can't overthrow the fundamentals.
It's spin control, but the reality is the priates proably get the the last laugh in this case.
BitTorrent is a technology first and a software product second. Technology can be used for 'good' or for 'evil' or in this case both because BitTorrent is a technology, and the antithesis of everything Napster was too boot. Deals and agreements won't stop torrent based piracy; nothing short of electronic warfare on the scale of China's great internet wall would stop torrent based piracy.
The studios are just realizing that the technology is very good, much like Blizzard Entertainment did.
First to market speed may not be as important right now as very few people are watching video on their video iPods. This is a post from Barron's http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2006/11/20/nielsen-ipod-owners-dont-watch-much-video/
Basically it say's only 2.2% of video iPod users watch video. I am one of those 2.2% but I fly a lot. I believe user behavior will change but it will take time.
> Do you honestly believe that the fight for mass downloadable video is going to come down to a question of speed?
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