A New Angle, Peer-to-Web Publishing

If YouTube and reality television haven’t already given most folks the 15 minutes of fame predicted by Andy Warhol, perhaps izimi will do the trick.

The startup is launching what it calls a free “Peer-to-Web” service today that let’s any user self-publish “any” file: music, text, photos, video, blog pages, etc. The Web site doesn’t host any files, but serves as a conduit to dynamically serve files sent in by registered users.

The files are hosted by Time magazine’s Person of the Year – you. Users just need to register and download a small izimi client file to post to the Web site. No client software is required to see published content, just a Web browser.

For example, a photo or video file hosted on your PC shows up as a link at the izimi Web site, which organizes multiple links in each user’s personal folder. The files can’t be accessed if the PC is turned off, but otherwise, anyone with a browser can go to izimi and view them.

The company said its secure “peer-to-browser” system has no limitations on file size or the number of files someone can publish. Also, ownership of the content remains with the publisher. The site also includes a search function and users can be alerted to new content via RSS  feed.

“Izimi’s concept of link and download is pretty unique,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst with The Enderle Group, told internetnews.com. “As bandwidth continues to become more available, peer-to-peer gets more interesting.”

He said long video files are probably impractical, given the dependence on an individual PC user’s bandwidth, but it should be fine for short videos. Izimi also notes users are not limited to Flash or other video formats common to YouTube.

For now, izimi has no plans to charge for its service and the listings are now all public. “Later on we’ll start thinking about privacy controls, like if a family wanted their own section,” David Ingram, vice president of product at izimi, told internetnews.com.

He said the company, with offices in the U.K., and San Francisco, takes copyright “very seriously” although at this point it’s relying on a community policing policy to “black flag” any questionable content.

Marc Lyne, izimi’s CEO, said the startup is focused on growing its user base and will pick a revenue model, such as ads on the site, or paid services, later.

Enderle noted that YouTube didn’t have much of a revenue model before it was purchased by Google for $1.65 billion. “This avoids some of the problems YouTube has and crosses over to pictures and other file types,” said Enderle. “It’s kind of a rethinking of FTP; FTP  made easy.”

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