TRON has announced a new product called the BitTorrent File System, a file storage platform powered by a wide-ranging decentralized network. BTFS will be powered by over 100 million BitTorrent users and more than 1000 TRON nodes. This is one of many projects that have emerged from of TRON’s acquisition of BitTorrent, which began about one year ago and is still growing in scale.
TRON has envisioned BTFS as the storage system that will underlie many of its blockchain-based DApps. App developers who plan to use the file system for that purpose will be able to do so following BTFS’s mainnet launch in Q3 of 2019. If it is successful, BTFS will offer app developers a storage system that is more reliable, more cost-effective, and more secure than other alternatives.
The Role of BitTorrent Token
In order to incentivize file storage and retrieval, BTFS will rely on BitTorrent’s token economy. This means that BTFS represents another use case for BitTorrent Token (BTT), which was first sold on Binance Launchpad in January. That sale initially raised over $7 million, and the token has since become a major success. With a market cap of $340 million, BitTorrent Token is now the 33rd largest cryptocurrency.
BTFS’s announcement did not have a noticeable effect on the price of BTT; however, TRON CEO Justin Sun did make a vague pre-announcement a few days beforehand, which drove BTT’s price up by 35%. This could be a sign that BTT is benefiting from general hype rather than specific developments. In any case, BTT has performed exceptionally well lately: over the course of May, the price of BTT rose by 140%, while the price of Bitcoin only went up by about 60%.
BTFS vs. BitTorrent Speed
BTFS may be less exciting to the general public than BitTorrent’s other upcoming app: BitTorrent Speed. This app will allow users to pay for faster download speeds. Uploaders, meanwhile, will get paid if they allocate their bandwidth to downloaders. Whereas BTFS will provide file storage for various apps, BitTorrent Speed will be directly integrated with BitTorrent’s client software—which is of course typically used for piracy and little else.
BTFS, however, seems to have a wide variety of use cases. TRON says that BTFS will be used to power every TRON-based DApp that requires data storage. It also says that BTFS will be used by TronMovie and BitTorrent Pix—two new apps that may be related to TRON’s planned streaming service and social media app. The unstated motivation behind BTFS seems to be BitTorrent’s desire to shed its association with piracy and transform into a legitimate content platform.
Will BitTorrent Succeed?
BTFS could become one of the most important components of BitTorrent’s expanding ecosystem. It will, however, face competition from other projects: IPFS is already dominating the realm of decentralized file hosting, and it will soon offer token incentives of its own thanks to Filecoin. Other competitors include Storj and Sia. That said, BitTorrent is a very significant contender: it is virtually a household name, and, as such, it will likely have very strong advantages over its competitors.