Back in 2006, a London/Prague-based company called AllPeers was, in the words of TechCrunch founder Mike Arrington, set to “take the world by storm” (and I remember feeling exactly the same way).
Based on the peer-to-peer bittorrent protocol, it consisted of a Firefox browser plugin that offered a dead-simple way for users to share files on their computer with anybody else in their AllPeers buddy list. Sadly, however, the startup was arguably ahead of its time and deadpooled in 2008.
(When I met the defunct company’s co-founder and serial entrepreneur Cedric Maloux in 2011, I excitedly uttered the words, “you were like Dropbox before Dropbox”. He gave me a look in return that only those who have ‘failed’ startup scars can truly appreciate.)
Of course, it could be argued that in the time that’s passed, the one-to-one and one-to-many file sharing problem has largely been solved thanks to the cloud and a plethora of file sharing and cloud-storage services that ride its coattails. But still, I couldn’t help have my interest piqued when hearing about French startup Infinit, which enters private Beta today with a new P2P file sharing service that is more than a little reminiscent of the simplicity of AllPeers.
Shunning bittorrent for its own file sharing technology — developed off the back of co-founder Julien Quintard’s PhD research on decentralized file systems while at the University of Cambridge — the Mac OSX-only app sees Infinit’s service integrated directly with OSX’s Finder, not dissimilar to Apple’s own AirDrop for local network file sharing.
Once installed, the Infinit icon shows up in the user’s Finder favourites, just like their own home folder or an attached USB drive, for example, whilst the Infinit interface consists of 8 avatars — seven of your most shared with ‘friends’ plus yourself — and a search bar for finding and sharing with others, including based on their email address. File transfers are initiated via a simple drag and drop of the content you wish to share onto the avatar of the person you wish to share it with, and a menu item in the Finder’s menu bar keeps tabs on how file transfers are progressing, new file transfer requests, and access to other settings.
In terms of security, Infinit says it uses direct encryption for files transferred between a sender’s device and a recipient’s device, “ensuring both security and privacy such that no third-party can ever interact with or access the exchanged data”, including Infinit itself.
Pricing-wise, Infinit will offer a free option with a limit of 2GB for file sizes, and various paid plans where file size will be unlimited. In addition, it says that anyone who downloads Infinit during its private Beta will get an unlimited version of the file transfer application “for life” (or as long as it avoids the fate of AllPeers).
Infinit is a graduate of the Le Camping accelerator program and is backed to the tune of $500,000 from Alive Ideas, a fund held by the founders of Clubic (now M6 Web), as well as two unnamed early executives at Sun Microsystems.