My Beta Test of JoostJanuary 17, 2007
After adding a results list for Joost today at Bessed, Ludovic from Joost was nice enough to let us know that more openings were available for beta testers, so I snagged one and gave it a whirl.
If you don’t know, Joost is the new TV-on-the-Internet product/service from the inventors of Skype and Kazaa. Until recently it was being referred to as The Venice Project.
My worry after reading some early comments about Joost was that it would cause my computer to go crazy from using too many system resources. My computer’s probably two or so years old and it’s not souped-up or anything, but Joost ran just fine. There were a couple of times the audio hiccupped, but nothing major. The computer didn’t crash, I didn’t have to cry.
That worry out of the way, Joost works sort of like regular TV is some ways. Turn it on (aka, double-click on its icon) and you get a channel that’s already running, so that feels familiar. You can then access a bunch of diferent channels with various content on them, from old TV shows to music videos to whatever else. I won’t go into what the current content is, because I don’t think that’s the point. The content is curently limited, and it obviously would need to be significantly beefed up, but the point of a beta is to see if the thing works, and it does.
As you move from channel to channel, you get a new “show” and you can skip through to other “shows” on that same channel. (I put “show” in quotes because some of these are fairly short pieces, not necessarily what you think of as neat little half-hour shows in the traditional sense.) The only trouble I had, or maybe I didn’t understand, was how to go directly to a show that I saw listed. It seemed I had to fast forward/skip to get to new content on a channel, instead of picking from a menu like you might on the menu of a DVD. When debuting the iPhone, Steve Jobs talked about seeing voice mails as a list and clicking on the one you wanted to listen to, even if it was out of order; I’d want the same idea out of Joost. Probably a short-term issue.
Joost also has some community features, so you can communicate with others while you’re watching. That’s not a big selling point for me, but I know younger people with more time on their hands might like it.
In short, my first impression of Joost is positive.
Looking at it brought up many questions. Do people want to watch TV on their computers? Is Joost online just the first step toward Joost on a regular home TV? And, if so, how does this threaten traditional TV or cable TV?
Personally I never think to myself that I wish I could watch TV on my computer (although people that often travel with laptops might think this sometimes). However, I do like the fact that some shows are now available online if I miss the show when it’s first aired. What if everything that aired in the last week on any channel was available for me to watch full-screen on my computer at any time I wanted, without paying but having a few ads thrown in, as Joost has? That would be cool, and that would make me watch on my computer.
Of course if there was a piece of equipment that combined the ability to watch broadcast TV with the ability to watch online channels that would be even better. Or, maybe even better, if all TV content was actually served via Joost-like channels on a regular-sized TV screen, giving me the opportunity to pick and choose what I wanted to watch any time of day, starting from the beginning of a show or content clip, that would be the ultimate. Any time I sat down and thought I wanted to watch something, I’d have not just hundreds of channels but also multiple choices within each channel. As a man who gets nervous at the video store over deciding what to choose, that might be a little much for me, but overall I’d rather have too many good choices than no good choices at all.
If/when this ultimate TV/Internet box is established, what does that mean for today’s broadcast and cable stations? Even worse, what does it mean for Tivo? Who needs Tivo if everything you might want to watch is constantly at your fingertips?
What the Joost beta showed me is that the technology is just about there. The missing piece of course is content. I won’t care about Joost if I can only watch curling matches and silent movies. But of course I don’t care about ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, Fox, Bravo or anyone else if they don’t have anything I want to watch.
If Joost can get good content, especially if it can get good content not available elsewhere, and if the delivery of that content (i.e., the ability to pick shows randomly and/or social networking features) is appealing to many people, it puts more pressure on broadcast and cable to start delivering shows in a similar fashion. And, if broadcast or cable networks do go that route, they’re likely to partner with the most established TV-on-the-Internet company out there, which my beta test tells me is Joost. Which could mean that Joost is another home run for the inventors who already have Skype and Kazaa under their belts.
It will be interesting to watch it unfold.
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Adam Jusko is founder and CEO of Bessed, a Web site promising “search without spam”, thanks to human-edited search results and ongoing visitor feedback. Do a search, offer your comments, submit your site–help create the “bessed” search site in the world.