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Imagining a mobile phone P2P network

Ringtone swapping parties

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Can mobile phones acts as nodes in vast peer-to-peer networks?

A French start-up called Apeera reckons the answer is yes and aims to supply mobiles subscribers with a network-based personal repository for content such as ring-tones, music, logos, clipart, photos, games and other applications. Apeera's technology lets users share this content and applications, boosting traffic on service provider networks and spurring adoption of the latest Java-based mobile phones.

Technologies such as GPRS and MMS (picture messaging) can also be expected to get a boost, alongside attempts by operators to use the network to boost viral marketing initiatives.

We say "expected" because technical details and Apeera's business remain vague. Are we talking a centralised data clipboard - which allows users to share data - or a true P2P network where data goes between phones?

Likely the former - a better example is probably paid-for subscription, which the music industry is championing as the successors to Napster and its ilk. After all, service providers will want to retain revenues from (for example) ringtones and logos. They will be less than whelmed with users downloading such paraphernalia and then sharing these freely with their mates.

A P2P phone network dredges up a host of issues ranging from the content (Digital Rights Management) system to be used, to whether mobile phone batteries and mobile network bandwidth available - remember P2P networks are notorious bandwidth hogs - can support such services. Then there's the security issues of running such services, especially since mobile phone increasingly hold sensitive data.

Intriguing idea though. ®

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