Limewire’s decision to sell music has been getting a lot of headlines but the reality is that the move is not particularly radical. Limewire has flirted with sponsored results before. The only difference is that now the sponsored results will be Limewire’s and will point directly at songs being sold via Limewire.
Now beginning with Napster P2P companies have made the effort to try and get into the music sales business. Had the big music companies reached a deal with Napster originally that might have happened from the start but I rather doubt that history would have changed too much. Would Napster have become the original iTunes? Probably not. Though it might have prospered. Would the history of P2P have been changed? Also probably not.
Limewire isn’t “going legit” as the stories describe it because going legit would mean exchanging the P2P model of users exchanging files for one of downloading files for sale from the company and that is not happening. I don’t doubt that Limewire management is well aware that this would be committing suicide. Limewire is simply flavoring its search results with music sales. Will that make much of a difference? Probably not but it may get Limewire a small share of the music sales market and maybe some credibility and leverage with the RIAA and the big labels.
Today Limewire is really the last of the big P2P companies still in the game. EDonkey has been shut down. Napster is a joke. Kazaa was sued out of existance. Limewire is of course generally useless and spamridden these days and an open source version, Frostwire, already waits to take its place.