uTorrent is the world's most popular BitTorrent client, with around 150 million users. However, despite enjoying such a massive user base, the fact that uTorrent is free means that its owner, BitTorrent Inc., has had to explore other options to generate the revenue it needs to stay in business.
uTorrent's current business model is a familiar one, used by many providers of free software. The application itself is free, but it's supported by the bundling of additional (and optional) apps and tools; the more this bundled software is installed, the greater the revenues generated for BitTorrent.
However, a recent incident highlighted the precarious nature of this revenue model. Last month, some of the bundled software included with uTorrent was flagged by antivirus (AV) networks as potentially harmful. As a result, uTorrent itself was flagged with malicious software warnings by AV vendors, and was at least partially blocked by Google's Chrome browser.
That incident may have been the last straw, prompting the company to seriously consider alternative means of long-term revenue generation. In a blog post last week, spotted more recently by TorrentFreak, the uTorrent team said that they "want to find a way to improve uTorrent for our customers while financially supporting the amazing team that works every day to make uTorrent great."
Beyond this fluffy marketing speak, there was also a more frank statement on how things currently stand:
We’ve never been satisfied with this revenue model. It requires compromises that detract from a premium user experience. We want to find a model that adds value to our product and our users.
Exactly what the new revenue model will look like remains to be seen; even BitTorrent Inc. itself admits that it isn't yet sure how it will proceed. It says that it has set three goals to help it to choose an appropriate course of action:
- Continue to make uTorrent the best torrent client available
- Provide our users with clear options for supporting uTorrent (with options for every budget)
- Be open and transparent throughout the entire process
The uTorrent team say they have "a lot of ideas" on where to go next, and they'll be developing them and putting these ideas to the test "over the next few weeks and months".