On the eve of the shiny, new iPhone release, it's time to bring up an old subject here.
I've long wondered when mobile computing would meet P2P content distribution head on. The entertainment focus of mobile devices matched with the bandwidth efficiencies always seemed to be a natural. Indeed, so much so, that the CTIA quietly filed an amicus brief on Grokster's behalf in the famous Supreme Court case. (As we noted at the time the brief was less about supporting the defendant and more about protecting the Sony Betamax precedent.)
Given this, it will be interesting to see the natural competition that will play out on the iPhone platform. On one hand you will have the interest of control that comes with operations over AT&T's EDGE network (when not on Wi-Fi) and Apple's interest to keep labels happy (see: Microsoft's Zune). On the other hand, Apple promises to open up the device to third-party apps later this year and, moreover, there will be a massive desire to hack the iPhone. This interplay might lead to content industry supported forms of wireless P2P distribution. It might mean that mobile BitTorrent applications are (further) developed. And, it might mean both.
Remarkably, some of the ramblings still have some validity. But, mostly they make me think that this amazingly hyped and anticipated iPhone launch is telling Apple's competitors that they need to do something BIG to hit this onslaught at the knees. Perhaps that something big is to seize on the the power of open platforms and the advent of Wi-Fi and/or VOIP networks and find ways to connect smart phones to entire libraries of music or video content? Or perhaps this will happen organically on the iPhone first and help it justify the anticipation that will end for some lucky souls tomorrow.