Why µTorrent Suddenly Matters (And LimeWire Still Matters)

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In the rough-and-tumble file-sharing arena, applications quickly rise and fall.

Kazaa, once a P2P powerhouse, is now a mostly forgotten, out-of-favor application.  Others, including Morpheus and eDonkey, have also stumbled into obscurity.

The culprit?  Blame a furious technological pace and quick-shifting, empowered users.  And in cases resembling Kazaa owner Sharman Networks, excessive spyware, adware, and bundled applications can quickly cool a hot piece of software.

Amidst the dogfighting, LimeWire has retained an enviable level of stability.  And the application is almost a staple for simpler file-swapping.  But according to data recently published by Digital Music News, the application remained mostly flat – and slipped slightly – during 2007.

In a comprehensive study that directly scanned the hard drives of roughly 1.5 million PCs, LimeWire was found on 17.5 percent of systems worldwide at the tail end of 2007, down from 18.9 percent one year earlier.

And what about µTorrent?  The BitTorrent application enjoyed an incredibly high-growth year, one powered by a lightweight footprint, efficient performance, and high stability.  By the end of last year, the application was found on 6.35 percent of all PCs worldwide, up from 2.12 percent at the end of 2006.

The ramp-up follows the acquisition of µTorrent by BitTorrent, Inc., announced in early December of 2006.   Fast-forward to the present, and the underlying µTorrent code now forms the underpinning for the flagship, BitTorrent 6.0 application.

For the most part, µTorrent’s growth comes at the expense of BitTorrent rivals – most noticeably from the former holder of the BitTorrent crown, Azureus.  At its peak in March of 2007, Azureus was found on 3.4 percent of all PCs scanned, a second-place ranking among all P2P applications.

But by December of 2007, Azureus dropped to a PC penetration rate of just 1.4 percent.  In just 9 months, Azureus plummeted to less than half its peak installation share.

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The data mentioned in this article is part the Digital Media Desktop Report, published periodically by the Digital Music News Research Group, BigChampagne, and PC Pitstop.  The report, which covers P2P, ecommerce, jukebox, and other music-related applications, can be purchased here.