KaZaA Founder Tips His Hand

Niklas Zennstrom, founder of the largest P2P network, KaZaA, has no intention of letting the heavy-handed arm of authority crush his ambitions for peer-to-peer networking. Au Contraire! He’s currently planning a fourth P2P company.

In an interview with Boardwatch, Light Reading's sister site for the telecom service provider industry, Zennstrom let it slip that he is working on a P2P voice communication business (see KaZaA Founder, Niklas Zennstrom).

He says it would allow people everywhere to talk to each other using intelligent end devices communicating across the Internet using P2P protocols. The need for "big hummer" telephone switches would disappear.

"Will it use SIP [session initiation protocol]?", Boardwatch asked.

“NO,” said Zennstrom, assertively.

Hmmm. How will it work then? He declined to say, for now. But expect something later this year.

Meanwhile, Zennstrom has other irons in the fire -- notably Altnet Inc., which is the paid-content distribution mechanism integrated with the KaZaA Media Desktop client. It's a joint venture of Brilliant Digital Entertainment and Zennstrom's third company, Joltid Ltd. (more on Joltid in a moment).

Essentially, Altnet provides a marketing and distribution campaign for content owners and distributors. All of the Altnet files are wrapped with DRM (digital rights management) software, and users pay for them. Songs that are legally on the KaZaA network with permission from the content owner are clearly marked with a gold label.

So why pay for them if they're also available, for free, on KaZaA? In the interview, Zennstrom likens this to selling mineral water to people who could drink tap water for free [ed note: which has always had me scratching my head].

As for Joltid, which Zennstrom just launched, it aims to help service providers reduce P2P congestion in their networks, using caching technology (see Euro ISPs Deploy P2P Cache).

Interestingly, Zennstrom says he doesn’t use the KaZaA service he invented to download music. “I buy CDs,” he retorts.

Well, he would say that, wouldn't he?

— Jo Maitland, Senior Editor, Boardwatch

rwelbourn 12/4/2012 | 11:45:10 PM
re: KaZaA Founder Tips His Hand I would guess that this is because of the firewall/NAT traversal problem that is such a pain in the ass with SIP and other protocols that separate the signaling from the media stream. It's a particularly acute problem in the P2P world, where many participants hide behind their own firewalls.

I suspect that the solution involves the signaling and the media stream going over the same port.

Trinity College Dublin created such a P2P system, using the JXTA framework. See http://trinytalk.jxta.org/ for more info.

swprincipal 12/4/2012 | 11:45:07 PM
re: KaZaA Founder Tips His Hand Your voice connection will be established in a moment, but first please listen to this important announcement from one of our sponsors...

The Audio Popup. Where do I sign up?
straightup 12/4/2012 | 11:45:03 PM
re: KaZaA Founder Tips His Hand Can you fit more B.S. into one article trying to hype his companies?
gbennett 12/4/2012 | 11:44:57 PM
re: KaZaA Founder Tips His Hand Comrades,

The tap water/bottled water analogy is interesting on several levels.

Tap water isn't free. Here in the UK we pay for our water in one of two ways. The old way is a flat fee with no meter, and the amount is usally based on the "rateable value" of your house. This is worked out using a formula that is only slightly more complex than Shrodinger's wave equation...


The new way is on a meter, and can be much cheaper for "average" water users.

Incidentally, since privatisation of the water companies in the UK we now pay much more for our water. In the good old days of public ownership we paid slightly less than a US water consumer. Today we pay, on average, 250% more! Where did all that money go? Well mainly on stock dividends (for the affluent middle class who own shares), and in "fat cat" payments to company executives.

Bottled water is often portrayed as being "better" for you than tap water. This is probably true in the US, where the water served at conferences lunches reeks of chlorine (and why don't you serve wine or beer at conferences???).

I can't quote a reference, but a UK TV show did a blind tasting of a number of samples from tap water around the company against the leading brands of still bottled water. The results were almost completely random - in other words the bottled stuff didn't taste any better or worse.

I know this seem off-topic, but let me drag it back. If the free music we can get from KaZaA is as good as "legal" music we can download from places like iTunes then why would you pay? However, if iTunes promises better quality samples, with no risk of distortion or other corruption, then I do see a value proposition. Clearly the people who are daft enough to buy bottled, still water (in countries with a safe water supply, of course), somehow feel there is such a distinction.

Bottled fizzy water is a different story, because it offers "added value" over tap water. My personal favourite fizzy water is Badoit (Perrier is way too gassy). And of course many French and Italian bottled waters have interesting mineral flavours that can be quite pleasant. Maybe because they've got some isotonic properties, I find these drinks more refreshing than tap water.

If legal download services offered analogous "additional features", perhaps using an extended file format (audio XML???), then there would be a reason to download the legal versions. I'm also assuming the legal versions have some form of distribution-limiting technology in them.

It's wrong to download most of the music you find on KaZaA. But if I were to do such a dreadful thing, I wouldn't feel guilty at all because I know that the vast majority of the money I pay for CDs in the shops is wasted on an obsolete distribution framework, and a bloated entourage of "record company employees" who add no value to the music whatsoever. Very little of the money actually goes to the producer of the work.

Imagine if Apple makes iTune a success, and effectively goes into the record business! They could cut out all the record companies with a cleaner and more efficient business model, the way Dell killed the distribution models used by erstwhile traditional PC vendors. Let's hope Apple gives more back to the artists than the current music oligopoly does.

sgan201 12/4/2012 | 11:44:56 PM
re: KaZaA Founder Tips His Hand Hi Geoff,
My basic laws for marketing
First law of marketing:
1) Perception is reality

Second law of marketing
2) There are more dumb people out there than smart people. Design/market/sell your product to dumb people which is a much larger market. If it requires a Phd to operate/use your product, your failure is assured from the start..

sgan201 12/4/2012 | 11:44:55 PM
re: KaZaA Founder Tips His Hand Hi Optical_man,
1) Who is MS competitor at the desk top??

2) Are they easier to install??
Please remember in most cases, the MS is pre-installed

3) Is it easier to buy??

4) Apple is better but it costs 2 times more..

Complexity is okay as long as it is hidden from the user/operator..

optical_man 12/4/2012 | 11:44:55 PM
re: KaZaA Founder Tips His Hand Author: dreamer101 Number: 5
Subject: Re: Is tap water free? Date: 7/17/2003 10:03:25 AM

2) There are more dumb people out there than smart people. Design/market/sell your product to dumb people which is a much larger market. If it requires a Phd to operate/use your product, your failure is assured from the start..

Yes and no.
McDonalds. Huge. Cheap, awful. Global. (it's the free tap water vs. perrier)
On the no front, you state that too complex dooms you to failure and the user shouldn't have to be over smart to use the product.
How does this explain Microsoft owning the desktop OS world? You have to be pretty saavy to get it to work. (std arguement from Larry Ellison, but he's right).
So, why is MS so big w/ such a complex product?

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