BitTorrent pushing towards mainstream adoption in consumer tech

Despite the needless and myopic stigma that the protocol is only used for piracy, BitTorrent (the company) announced that their Mainline and µTorrent products have grown to over 150 million users. In addition, the company that maintains the protocol itself said they’ve formed device partnerships with device makers to expand their reach. The announcements were made during CES on Monday.

According to BitTorrent, the BitTorrent Mainline client (one of the original BitTorrent applications) boasted over 20 million users in December 2011. During the same period, the widely popular µTorrent client grew to over 132 million users. The numbers represent clients running on all the established platforms, including Windows, Macintosh, Android, and Linux.

“This marks an amazing milestone for our company and we want to thank our loyal users and partners for their support. Our protocol and software clients have become some of the most pervasive pieces of technology in Internet history,” said Eric Klinker, CEO of BitTorrent.

Moreover, while the increase of their user base is great news, BitTorrent also announced that they have formed four “BitTorrent Certified” partnerships during CES, which will enable the protocol’s usage within consumer technology. The result is that their devices will seamlessly play BitTorrent content using a simple 10 foot user interface controlled by four or seven button remotes for TVs, BD/DVD players, set-top boxes, network-addressable storage media adapters and more.

The company explained in a press release that BitTorrent Certified devices are designed to enable consumers to discover, play, share, and move all types of personal media, regardless of size, type, or format.

Slovakia-based manufacturer of IPTV devices, Antik Technology, announced a set-top box compatible with BitTorrent. Antik´s Juice product line is able to download, share, and play torrent files directly on a TV. [More Information]

With devices planned for sale in Europe, Russia, Ukraine, and Turkey, AirTies (a wireless networking and set-top box vendor), said that they will offer BitTorrent on network-attached storage devices (NAS), set-top boxes, and popular home router lines. Existing devices will get a software upgrade in order to enable the protocol’s usage. [More Information]

“The massive files generated by this latest generation of smartphones, digital SLRs, and HD camcorders are driving demand for NAS and set-top box devices in the home, not to mention better routers. The key is making these files easily consumable on all of the other devices in your home and make it even easier to share them directly with friends,” said Tuncay Cil, VP, Product Management at AirTies.

Focusing their efforts in Europe and Asia, media player design and manufacturing firm, Dune HD, will offer BitTorrent Certified HD media players to the public. For those who are not familiar, Dune HD sells IPTV, VoD and OTT set top boxes to Telcos across Europe, Russia, Ukraine, and throughout Asia. The also offer media players through normal consumer retail channels.

“Once you’ve recorded a smartphone video with your friends or recorded a family wedding, it’s fairly easy to transfer the files to your PC. However people really want to easily view them on their TV, and share them with friends. BitTorrent technology makes it fast and easy,” said Konstantin Dyshlevoy, a CEO at Dune HD.

Finally, BBK Technologies will offer BitTorrent Certified TVs and Blu-ray / DVD players, in addition to media adapters to consumers in Russia.

While there were no U.S. brands mentioned in the partnership announcements, Antik has offices in the US. Though, to be honest, their devices give off the feel that they are OEM only. So it may be hard to just go out and pick one up. No one was available for comment at the time this went to press.

Either way, the push forward from BitTorrent means that American consumers may start seeing more choices when it comes to the protocol’s usage and streaming media in their living rooms - as long as regulation doesn’t get in the way.

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