May 01, 2002, 1:29 PM — The size of Kazaa's peer-to-peer file sharing network ballooned by nearly 70 percent over the last two months, while rival file-swapping system Morpheus, which has recently undergone a platform change, has experienced a precipitous decline, Redshift Research Inc. reported Wednesday.
Users have swarmed to Sharman Networks Ltd.'s Kazaa since Morpheus switched from the popular FastTrack technology to a Gnutella application in early March, the researcher noted. The week before the switch, Morpheus, run by Streamcast Networks Inc., was temporarily shut down in what the company claimed was a denial-of-service attack, leaving more than 1 million users unable to connect to the network.
According to the Belmont, Massachusetts, researcher, Kazaa had an average of 1.4 million users logged on to the system at any one time in April, 69 percent more users than it had in February. Meanwhile, Morpheus usage slipped more than 70 percent from February to April. Morpheus boasted an average of 1.08 million users in February, when it was still based on FastTrack, but by April the Gnutella network, which includes Morpheus and similar file-swapping programs LimeWire and BearShare, averaged 280,000 users, Redshift said.
Redshift Research President Matt Bailey pointed to Morpheus's platform switch as accounting for the network's massive loss of users. After the switch, users had to download the new Gnutella application, which was basic in nature and ate up a lot of bandwidth, Bailey said.
Although Bailey predicted that Morpheus would soon launch a much better software client than it currently has, he noted that it is difficult to regain users once they have migrated to another network.
Meanwhile, Kazaa is benefitting from Morpheus's troubles, despite the recent reports of the software's implementation of "spyware." Although Bailey said that he was surprised that users were not more concerned about hidden software programs, he saw this as yet another sign of the unfettered popularity of P-to-P networks.