Streaming v. Torrent – The true promise of on-demand

Steve Gillmor comments on TechCrunch today that Comcast’s caps on bandwidth may finally drive people from the land of torrents, and to the land of streaming. [here]

While I agree that the promise of streaming is long overdue, there is the one area that streaming still can’t fill: The mobile viewer. I don’t mean folks on mobile phones, although with the growth of 3G in the Americas (Europe and Asia laugh at us in the area), the mobile market will become more important.

No, I am referring to the mobile, laptop-using traveller, mainly the business traveller, although leisure travellers are starting to take their laptops with them more often. Streaming doesn’t work on the road, in a hotel with a crappy connection, in an airport, or somewhere were the 3G isn’t 3G enough.

While streaming will become more prevalent, it won’t unseat the culture of Torrents for a few years yet. It will happen. But affordable, reliable connectivity saturation across the Americas has to occur first. And, in some ways, Comcast and the other providers are the ones hampering this process.

The focus of the connectivity providers on their dinosaur cage-match with the FCC has left them ignorant of the asteroid screaming toward them. In order to create a streaming market that they can profit from, they have to open the pipes, lower the costs, and increase the options for the consumer of their Internet/bandwidth services. If the connectivity they provide to the consumers can’t support the desire for the streaming economy, the Torrent reality will not fade away.

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