Re: [CNET] Aimster nears 1 million users

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From: Adam Rifkin (
Date: Fri Sep 01 2000 - 11:36:47 PDT

Amazing what qualifies as a press release nowadays. I just read this in
the light-of-day...

> LOS ANGELES--Aimster, a new Napster-like program that piggybacks on
> America Online's Instant Messaging service and could be the biggest
> nightmare to date for studios trying to stop film and music swapping
> online, said it has held initial talks with Intel to forge ties.

Why would a company leak this to the press? Doesn't this potentially
sabotage any such talks?

> "Intel has contacted us and said they thought we had a great thing in this
> space. We're hoping to meet with them soon and enter into a strategic
> partnership with them," said Johnny Deep, a spokesman for the Troy,
> N.Y.-based group of 14 software developers who created the program.

It took them 14 people to write that program?!

> Deep also said that Aimster next week plans to announce that it has
> attracted 1 million AOL users less than one month after the program
> was launched on Aug. 8, among an estimated 60 million users of the AOL
> Instant Messaging system.

I wonder how many of them are like me: downloaded it out of curiosity
and then never used it again.

> Intel had no comment, but last week announced it formed an industry
> working group to foster standards and protocols for peer-to-peer (P2P)
> computing for use in businesses. It said its venture capital arm was
> preparing to invest in P2P start-ups.

"Intel had no comment." Why is Intel going out of its way to promote
p2p? Shouldn't this be an idea that appeals more to the Ciscos and Suns
and AOLs of the world? (The nutwork is the computer, so easy to use no
wonder it gets no respect, yadda yadda yadda.)

> "Peer-to-peer computing could be as important to Internet's future as
> the Web browser was to its past," Patrick Gelsinger, chief technology
> officer, Intel Architecture Group, said at the time.

How the heck does the press keep extracting nuggets like this from
senior folks at Intel? (And wasn't this exact sentence said by Marc
Andreessen as justification for investing in one of these p2p's?

> An alliance between Intel and Aimster would be a significant turning
> point for the evolution of file-sharing communities, like Napster and
> Gnutella, which have for the most part been reviled and sued by the
> entertainment industry for allegedly facilitating copyright infringement.

Not a significant turning point at all. These communities will still be
reviled and sued by the entertainment industry.

> Intel sees the programs as creating strong demand for greater
> computing power that in the long run could bolster sales of personal
> computers that run on its microprocessors.

I really don't follow the logic here. Napster and Gnutella require no
CPU power at all. Sure, we need tons more hard drive space than we used
to, but Intel isn't in the storage business, are they? Sure, we need
more bandwidth baby, but Intel's not in that business either. Perhaps
more database usage too, but Intel isn't there either. So how does p2p
require more compute power?

> Deep said he would hope to eventually reach a partnership agreement
> with AOL, as well. But analysts said AOL may not be entirely receptive
> and that Aimster could also wind up in court like other file-sharing
> services.

*scratches head*

So there's absolutely nothing keeping AOL from shutting off Aimster's
access to their network?

Why has AOL let this go on as long as they have?

> "We are aware of the program," said Andrew Weinstein, an AOL
> spokesman. "And we are currently looking into it."

Translation: "We suspect we may be able to make money off this, so we're
not shutting them down until we can figure out whether we can or not."

> Trade groups representing some technology giants filed briefs Monday
> to a federal appeals court expressing concerns about an injunction
> issued last month by a U.S. District court against song-swap company Napster.

Looks like Napster has now been banned at 34% of U.S. colleges:

"Woo hoo!" says Kragen. "That means 66% of colleges are still allowing
use of Napster!" :)

> In filing these "friend-of-the-court" briefs, groups like the Computer
> & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which represents
> technology giants such as AT&T, Oracle and Yahoo, said the courts need
> to reinterpret and revise some of the models for intellectual property
> protection.

Is the CCIA the lobby group that contains Everyone But Microsoft?

> Unlike Napster, which uses central computers known as servers to link
> people swapping songs, Aimster and Gnutella require no central
> computer and can be used to swap picture and video files as well as
> MP3 music files. This decentralized file-sharing method makes it
> harder to crack down on potential piracy.

But AOL can shut down Aimster's access to AIM, right?

> The Aimster service, which attaches a Gnutella browser to AOL's
> Instant Messaging service (AIM), puts AOL again in an unusual position
> with its soon-to-be merger partner Time Warner.

No way. AOL loves this attention and free press.

> Time Warner, the world's biggest media company, is among several
> entertainment industry giants such as Sony and Bertelsmann that have
> sued file-sharing companies like Scour and Napster for copyright
> infringement.

With the merger of AOL and Time Warner, I think the number of Global
Media Giants controlling most of our music, television, and movies,
drops below ten.

AOL/TimeWarner, CBS/Viacom, GE, Sony, Bertelsmann, Disney,
Tele-Communications Inc., NewsCorp, Vivendi/Seagrams, Yahoo.

Am I missing any big ones?

> Earlier this month, AOL had to remove a search engine that locates
> music files on its Winamp music player, citing concerns about
> intellectual property rights.

I can't believe AOL has 24 million monthly subscribers.

> And ironically, engineers at AOL's Nullsoft unit were behind the
> creation of Gnutella, released onto the Web in March. AOL subsequently
> shut the Web site down but copied versions have proliferated as the
> court cases against Napster continues.

It will be interesting if Napster does shut down, to see if there's a
massive migration to Gnutella, which is neither as usable as Napster nor
has any concept of community.

> "The music and movie industries are trying to cut the head off Napster
> when underneath what is about to emerge is much nastier. A Gnutella
> network on top of AOL makes Napster look like kids' stuff. If you can
> use the AOL network to share files, its pretty enormous," said Bruce
> Forest, director at Viant, a Boston-based developer of digital
> business.

Bruce Forest = Tom Higgins? Hmmm... not enough evidence of Tourette's
Syndrome. :)

And don't get me started on VIAN stock. Piece of shiitake.

> He added that more programmers will figure out how to attach
> file-sharing technologies to other platforms, extending the impact of
> such tools to an ever wider audience.

Just wait till someone figures out how to do it for the Web.
Probably will happen soon.

> But, he said leveraging the file-sharing market would create a whole
> new revenue stream for content companies.

Yeah right. Remember when Content was King?

To quote Janelle Brown: "In all the areas that independent Web-content
outfits, no matter how frugal, have to fork out significant amounts of
money to build their businesses -- stuff like server purchases and
maintenance and advertising sales forces -- Slate gets to piggyback on
its Microsoft sugar daddy, and benefit from its prominent position on
the Microsoft Network. (linked, you may recall, from a million Windows
desktops worldwide). 'This approach ... will leave us alive when we
might otherwise be dead,' Kinsley writes. 'Seems like a good deal to
me.' A good deal indeed, even if it borders on the Faustian. Listen to
Kinsley, O Content Creators -- he has the answer you've all been
seeking. The key to making money from online content is getting yourself
bought by Microsoft (or an equally deep-pocketed competitor like America
Online). Sure, you'd have to share a lunchroom with Kinsley, but we hear
he doesn't mind sharing his mac 'n' cheese specials."

> Deep said Aimster believes it is insulated from lawsuits because it
> can be used for many non-infringing purposes.

Truly he has a dizzying intellect.

> And, Aimster users share files only with people on AIM "buddy lists,"
> which gives it a legal advantage over Napster, which lets users
> download from anybody else on the service, he said.

What?! Is he really this naive?

> Deep said on Tuesday, Aimster released a new version of the program
> that could handle up to 10 million users at once and that next month
> it a still newer version would be able to handle a nearly unlimited
> number of users.

Wait a second. AIM at *peak* handles what, 4 million simultaneous
connections? Isn't it asking for trouble to piggyback someone who can
only do half the load Aimster is bragging about?

It's enough to make someone go join the board of Jabber or something.

[Insert Bebergian bitterness about the numbskullosity of the situation...]


"Toiling in a sweatshop, stooping in rice paddies, or marching at gunpoint for days on end can really make you work up a sweat," Highsmith said. "Gatorade is scientifically formulated to replenish the fluids and minerals active peasants need." [Gatorade's] massive rehydrative effort is hoped to quench as many as 59 million in "hot, tired populations" by early 2001. -- "Gatorade Pledges $240 Million in Thirst Aid to Underquenched Nations",

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