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Apple to boost iTunes downloads with BitTorrent?

Built into Mac OS X 10.5, rumours allege

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Apple's next major operating system release - aka 'Leopard' - will feature built-in BitTorrent support to speed up the company's eagerly anticipated movie download service, it has been alleged. If true, it would allow iTunes Music Store customers to grab video data not only from the online shop but also from other customers who've already purchased the movie.

Readers assuming this marks Apple's whole-hearted embrace of P2P technology should remember that downloaded movies will still be DRM'd to the hilt. The move is more about getting content to customers more quickly than sharing stuff.

The claim comes from MacOSRumors, which cites one of its "oldest and most reliable" sources. It's not clear whether the BitTorrent code would ship as a separate app or be integrated into the operation system, which will ship as Mac OS X 10.5. Either way, it would be also used to speed the delivery of system software updates. Presumably, the system would be limited to Apple-sourced content.

The technique would also have to be enabled by the user on a voluntary basis - the backlash against Apple if it forced users to share their broadband bandwidth or if it did so without telling them would be immense. We can foresee something as basic as an 'Accelerate Downloads' checkbox in iTunes preferences panel. Apple might even reward bandwidth-sharers with content download credits. ®

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