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?