Apple could save a bundle on bandwidth by tapping into the unused cable/DSL bandwidth of its users. Macosrumors claims to have information pointing to the planned inclusion of a P2P system to be built into OS X 10.5 (Leopard). Users who elected to turn on the “Reward-Sharing system” would receive Apple credits, redeembable for iTMS downloads or other goodies.
Based on some rough math estimated for the proposal, the team pushing this concept believes they could cut Apple’s bandwidth costs by hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars per year and by always finding the closest peer-sharing hosts, the system would also save terabytes of Internet backbone bandwidth that is now used for Software Updates, QuickTime Movie Trailers, and iTunes Store downloads among other things.
Integrating P2P into the operating system at this level would be a sort of acknowledgment that P2P isn’t an activity users do on top of a network stack, but an emergent feature of the network itself, increasingly integral to everyday computing.
In the midst of the net neutrality debate, this has additional implications, since it means users with lots of dark fiber would suddenly be using lots more of their Comcast (etc.) bandwidth. Apple essentially making the internet healthier by distributing the load … but ultimately at the expense of the carriers.