Category Archives: Joost

Joost and the Apple TV?

I used to think a lot about “convergence,” and ubiquitous computing. It’s obvious that I’m not doing much of that any more, because it took me until now to have me consider the fact that the Apple TV runs OS X might mean that 3rd party apps, like, maybe, Joost, end up running on it.

What finally jogged my brain was this item from Om Malik’s live blogging of a talk by Steve Jobs at the D conference.

Q: Why do you call AppleTV a hobby?
A: What every body has tried is that coming from computer market, you think about getting content from your computer to your TV. I am not sure that is what consumers want. More we think about it, they are like peas. We think the content from the Internet is the real play.
GigaOM LIVE BLOGGING: Apple adds YouTube to AppleTV «

Update: Not surprisingly, this dim insight isn’t exactly news. People have already hacked the AppleTV to run 3rd party apps, including Joost.

I wish Joost…

It’s been a couple of weeks since I first installed and sampled Joost.  I haven’t had much time to play with it since then, but I had some free time this morning, so I decided to give it a better look and I thought I’d write up my impressions.  I’ll use a bulleted list to gloss over the fact that I’m not giving this much thought.

  •  I Like Rocky and Bullwinkle — I don’t think I’ve watched them since I was 14, but Joost has one episode, and I want more.
  • I wish it were easier to add channels — I originally though there were only a couple of dozen channels, but then I tried clicking on a little non-button I discovered in the corner of the channel list and discovered at least a dozen more.  Now that I know, it’s easy to find, but I know other people have completely missed the additional channels
  • I wish it were easier to remove channels — Some of the channels I added are real duds.  I can right click on them in my channel list and choose”remove” from a popup menu, but nothing happens (an obvious bug).  To remove them, I have to go into the list of all channels, view the channel and click a remove button.  Simple enough, except a lot of the channels have similar names and logos, so figuring out which is which is a pain in the ass.
  • I wish it were easier to find out about channels before adding them — At best you have the name of the channel and a short description to go by.  Unfortunately, the short descriptions are unpopulated.  This is inexcusable someone on Joost’s team is clearly involved in vetting channels for inclusion.  They should write a short description even if the video content provider doesn’t come through.  There are other glithces with the channel descriptions too.  Often, Joost shows the description for the last channel you looked it.  It can take 5-10 seconds for the description of the next channel to show up.  There are other annoyances too.  There is no way to scan through the new channels, you have to look at the description of one and then go back to the list, and unfortunatley, you end up loosing your place in the list.  When looking for new channels, you really should be able to jump from channel to channel, and when doing so, you should be able to see a little bit about the programming in the channel, perhaps even viewing the clips.
  • I wish the ads were inserted more carefully –Joost seems to insert an ad at a regular interval, but the break rarely coincides with a natural break in the narrative of the programming.
  • I wish it had more stuff I wanted to watch

Ok, enough bullets, I’m going to get some coffee.

Joost kicks the cable tv industry in the nuts, and you are invited to watch

I picked up an invitation code for Joost over on Jyte last week, and I just took the time to download and install it.

For those who don’t know, Joost is the latest venture from the creators of Skype and Kazaa. Kazaa kicked the music industry in the nuts by providing a decentralized version of Napster. Skype kicked the long distance industry in the nuts by providing easy to use high-quality peer-to-peer internet telephony.

So, that would make Joost a swift kick in the nuts of the cable TV industry. It uses peer-to-peer technology to provide video on demand over the internet. This could make it possible for content producers like HBO to connect with viewers without having to cut in the cable companies (or the cable “networks” for that matter). I’m thrilled at the prospect. I like a lot of HBO programming, but I don’t want to have to deal with the shifty sales tactics of the cable companies in order to get to it, so I end up waiting for things to come out on DVD.

It differs from other P2P distribution of video in a few ways. From the end users point of view, it has the advantage of a slick, learnable user interface that can start playing new video almost instantly.

From the content creators point of view, it has the advantage of allowing them to maintain a degree of control over their content — they decide what gets made available, and how long it remains available. Plus, it looks like there is advertising, which suggests they have a way to get paid.

Of course, as a consumer, I see the ads as a disadvantage. I don’t know how many minutes of ads Joost will ultimately lace their programming with. I do know that network TV devotes almost 20 minutes of every hour to ads. Cable TV is sometimes better, and often worse. I really have better things to do than watching ads. If the price was right, and the programming was decent, I’d pay not to have to see them.

The Joost experience is a mixed bag so far. The installation process is very straightforward and there is basically no configuration, other than signing in to the service once. The UI is a little puzzling, but it doesn’t take long to find all the features, and once you do, it’s pretty easy to remember how to use and find them again. Joost is promising a social experience around TV watching, but so far, I haven’t experienced it. I’ve joined chatrooms for a few of their “channels” and ended up talking to myself because there haven’t been any other users. The video quality is pretty good. Definitely better than YouTube, but generally not as good as a ~360MB/hr XVID, plus, I’ve experienced issues with the stream stuttering or pausing due to network congestion.

Joost could be an interesting test of net neutrality since it depends on infrastructure often provided by competitors (Cable internet) or potential competitors like DSL providers, which are generally phone companies who have their own video ambitions.

The programming on Joost seems decidedly like extended basic cable. Old National Geographic specials, reality shows, niche sporting events, some MTV programming and various independent films. Production qualities are also basic cable-grade, which these days, can be pretty slick. I hope they open it up a little bit and start taking stuff of compelling interest even if the production values are a little more like what two dedicated and talented amateurs can pull off in their spare time.

But hey, you don’t have to take my word for it. I’ve got an invite code or two, so you can check it out for yourself. Just leave me an e-mail address and I’ll send them out, first come, first served.

UPDATE: I’m all out of invites!