Joost is the iPhone of TV

The Venice Project, Dirk Willem van Gulik (of Apache fame) and Skype wonderboys Janus Friis and Niclas Zenström’s peer-to-peer IP TV project, today officially became Joost.

I’ve been playing around with the Venice player (now Joost player) for the past couple of weeks after finally resolving some connectivity issues. While a bandwidth hog unlikely to work reliably on anything but a really fat pipe, the player works like a charm, quickly loading new videos including a non-intrusive sponsor advert.

The content available right now is pretty limited (a lot of music videos and MTV style content, most likely due to content manager Henrik Werdelin’s previous stint with MTV Europe), but it seems only a question of time before more varied content comes available. I know of several production companies in discussion with Werdelin & co. and would be surprised if a tipping point can’t be reached pretty quickly, especially in Europe which is dotted by TV production companies heaving to reach audiences beyond the limited national audiences.

My biggest issue with Joost so far has been the generally sub-DivX quality of the video, in my mind ruling out watching more than 15 minutes at a time (I’m sure my eye doctor will agree). Furthermore, there’s inconsistency between the image frame resolution of shows, most likely due to the ‘crippling’ of content by some providers who are still not comfortable with the new distribution model.

Before having tested the player I feared that Niclas, Janus and Dirk might be going wrong this time in that the disruption comes in democratizing the content, not the platform. My argument was that it seemed that they were betting on their business acumen to close deals with the content providers rather than disrupting the actual distribution.

Joost Plug-inI’ve pulled back on that conclusion as the genuine disruption lies not in the distribution, but on what comes on top of the TV viewing. Joost is the Firefox or iPhone of TV.
That significant dash of Internet flavor comes in the form of the Mozilla XUL platform, which enables the rapid and simple creation of plugins, already known to a hoard of Firefox extension developers. The Joost developers have already added a few, including a backchannel chat, a Jabber IM client, and show ratings, but the real fun starts when data is moved out of Joost.

Just like most of the really interesting discussion around the iPhone has centered around iPhone widgets, the really interesting discussion around Joost should be the plug-ins.
So how about you: what services did you dream up on the analog tube that were never possible? I vote for a videoscrobbler and matching last.fmtv service, but what about you?

  • The relevant thing here is not XUL, but Mozilla’s XULRunner framework. It basically alows to create applications using the Gecko rendering engine (the very same used in Firefox) and the various standards it supports, for instance SVG, XHTML, CSS, the DOM and JavaScript.

  • Matt_

    Joost is the iPhone of TV more like the OpenMoko of TV

    The iPhone is just too locked down …

  • If anyone has an invite they wouldn’t mind passing on, I’d appreciate it. m!at!vorwaller!dot!net. Thanks!

  • hi there,

    another guy looking for an invite AT gmail NOSPAM DOT com


  • Sub-divX quality? That is a shame to hear. As much as I want video on demand on a device (laptop) I can pipe to a big screen (TV) it has to be DVD quality or my girlfriend, mother and non-tech friends are just going to laugh and go back to Sky/cable/DVDs. Much like the blank wall I met when showing them YouTube (though Joost isn’t as bad in quality I assume.)

    And an invite would be most welcome, I’d love to test our research center’s bandwidth :)

  • I’d also like an invite to beta if anyone is feeling generous. This is a really exciting advance! I look forward to the day when I can tell cable companies to stick it!

    I can be reached at the email or blog provided. Thanks!

  • hi there,

    begging for an invite

    email AT dennisbowen DOT com


  • Matt_

    It depends on the content provided

    Joost is using the H.264 codec from Corecodec .

    If you search (yes you can search) for the Snakes documentary from Off The Fence that is filmed in HD it is flawless .

  • Asbjørn Ulsberg would be so mind-bogglingly awesome! At least if they managed to get the algorithms and recommendations to the same accuracy-level as Thinking about it almost gave me goose bumps! :-D

  • Plugins for, and something like an rss feed of current viewing or favorite content, would be great …especially because it could have links to the content, or at least to a file that works like Goggle Earth’s kml files to open the content in the Joost client.

    I’ve been testing Joost on a 700kbps DSL line and it works great. Though most of the current content is sub-DivX quality, some of it (like the Off The Fence production Snakes) shows much better DivX-like quality.

    Joost could easily develop a big enough audience to attract lots of advertisers and quality content. It should have a big impact.

  • Any particular reason as to why they use H.264.

    I know it is supposed to be state of the art right now but Dirac is coming along nicely and is supposed to offer better compression.

    Dirac costs more in terms of cpu usage but is supposed to be more network friendly. That should make it more sustainable. The fact that Dirac is open source and heavily backed by the BBC does not work against it either.

    Take care,