FrostWire Leaves Gnutella for BitTorrent

By Richard Menta 6/28/11

Ernesto at TorrentFreak broke some big news regarding Limewire splinter app Frostwire. With the demise of LimeWire last year FrostWire replaced it as the leading client used by those sharing files on the Gnutella network. Now the group behind it has announced that the upcoming FrostWire 5.0 will pull out of Gnutella entirely and become a BitTorrent-only client. Spam was cited as the reason for the move.

“We decided to go all out with BitTorrent and spend our time making FrostWire the best BitTorrent client out there, and not fighting the endless spam battle", the FrostWire team told TorrentFreak. "There are many opportunities to take in the realm of legal file-sharing and social networking that you will see happen as FrostWire 5 keeps evolving,”

The Frostwire team added, “The team decided to listen to what’s happening in the p2p world and to make FrostWire a great BitTorrent client that makes BitTorrent easy to use. The Gnutella Protocol is an amazing piece of technology, but one which the team is no longer interested in or capable of developing further.”

Richard Menta

In 2007 and 2008 I oversaw research that measured adoption trends among digital music applications. The report, a coordinated effort between Big Champagne, PC Pitstop and Digital Music News, tracked the global installation base for leading digital music applications including P2P clients, ecommerce clients, and jukebox applications. More than 100,000 unique PCs were polled for this data each month and more than 1.5 million unique PCs were polled over a given year.

That report identified Limewire as the clear leader with a hair more than one-third of the market all to itself. It was also the leading Gnutella client by a huge margin. FrostWire first appeared on our data in January 07 with a mere 0.4% share. It's base grew quickly, tripling to a 1.2% share by September of that year. The Gnutella network held 20.9% of the market that month v. BitTorrent's 16.2%.

I just took a look at some post research number I had, which took me to September of 2008. It shows that BitTorrent closed the gap over another year but Gnutella still held the lead 19.6% to 17.4%. FrostWire continued to grow too, Surpassing BearShare for the number two Gnutella client spot with a 1.6% market share. Three years later FrostWire is number one, but what does that mean? I don't have current numbers, but I strongly suspect that any lead Gnutella held over the BitTorrent network collapsed with the closure of LimeWire. Of course, older LimeWire and FrostWire clients should still function so Gnutella's user base may still be considerable.

I can't say if FrostWire's announcement will mean an end to Gnutella as a network, but it's place as a leading network is probably coming to an end. This is nothing new as we have seen so many networks come and go. The original Napster was replaced by Gnutella network, which was shortly eclipsed by the FastTrack network for number one. Then FastTrack fizzled and a revitalized Gnutella returned to take the top spot. Limewire allowed it to hold that position for years, even against the arrival of the superior BitTorrent technology. Now LimeWire is gone and FrostWire is not far behind.

Will Gnutella join the likes of AudioGalaxy, Freenet and iMesh? Don't ask people still running OpenNap servers.