Limewire announced today that it is now distributing a browser toolbar with its client. Limewire is in good company with this: Pretty much all major P2P clients and most torrent sites offer browser toolbars. However, most users aren't really too thrilled about these add-ons, and Limewire's VP of Product Management Jason Herskowitz went into great lengths today on the company's blog to defend the move:

"(A)t LimeWire we have turned away countless companies that have wanted us to bundle software - that while it would have generated revenue for us, provided limited value to you. (...) We believe that we have created a new toolbar that does specifically thatÖ it provides core value to your file-sharing/searching/downloading experience."

So what's the unique value proposition of the Limewire toolbar? Apart from being able to search the web (big deal), it also allows to pass search terms as well as media links to the Limewire client. Say you're visiting a torrent site. Limewire's toolbar will automatically recognize any torrent links on the current page and offer the option to download any of them with Limewire's client.

I'm honestly not quite sure if that's enough to get many people to use the software, but then again, I'm not the target audience. Limewire's toolbar is Windows only. Herskowitz did announce that the company will add some more features in the future without going into specifics, but he hinted that one of the features could be an audio player for media files embedded in the current page.

Useful or not, Limewire is likely to generate some nice extra revenue with the toolbar, which it realized in coperation with IAC's Ask.com. Search engines like Ask tend to pay as much as a dollar per installed toolbar, and the conversion rates are quite high - especially if you make the bundled software opt-out, meaning that users who tend to just click continue without reading anything during the installation will automatically end up with a little less real estate in their browser. And it looks like that's exactly what Limewire did:

"If you donít want the toolbar, just deselect the checkbox and we wonít install or change any of your default browser settings."


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