BitTorrent, which years ago first made its name as an efficient distribution network for music and video (sometimes not for the most legit of ends), has been positioning itself as a distribution service for everything. Today it's adding two more strings to that bow: it's launching Sync, its file-synchronizing service as an iOS app and adding support for 10 languages beyond English. As with before, Sync remains a free service, although the company is getting closer to working out how to monetize it as a premium service for enterprises, as well.
Since launching Sync in beta and as an Android app just over a month ago, BitTorrent tells me that the service has seen some strong take-up. “We are closing in on 14 petabytes synced since the open alpha in April,” a spokesperson tells me. “We were at 8 petabytes in July when we moved into beta.”
The iOS app will let users move big files between devices, not unlike what you do with Dropbox, Bitcasa and other cloud-based storage systems - except that BitTorrent's P2P distribution architecture means that nothing is “stored” in any cloud that can be accessed.
You can use it to back up photos from your iPhone to your laptop, or use it to send files from your iPad to your home computer. As with the desktop and Android versions, there is no file-size limit. In a sense, adding the iOS support is a natural extension of the original premise of Sync: being able to access your data regardless of device or location.
In terms of new language support, the 10 getting added today are German, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional) and Portuguese (Brazil and Portugal). Adding them in early-doors, while the product is still in beta, underscores the fact that BitTorrent as a brand has long had a loyal group of users worldwide.
But while the company plans to monetize the service longer term, it's still holding back on that for now.
“The basic features of BitTorrent Sync will always be free of charge,” the spokesperson says. “[But] we are exploring potential business models that may include premium features to address certain applications. For example, enterprise, where we have the potential to offer significant cost savings and added security and speed benefits.”
There is no timing yet for premium features, he says, but notes that the company is in “closed discussions” with a few potential companies that might either help BitTorrent sell or build them out. “It's too early to say what direction these will take. We are interested in hearing from people about what premium features they would like to see and how BitTorrent Sync would be helpful to them in, say, the enterprise setting,” he says. Until BitTorrent formally announces anything, it looks like the best channel for feedback about this idea is through its Sync forums.