Earlier this week I finally got to try out Joost, which -according to their own web site- is "a new way of watching TV on the internet". I've installed their software on both the Mac and a PC and played with it for about an hour. So far I found it interesting and well executed, but nothing revolutionary.
Ever since winamp introduced their integrated TV channel, it has been clear that it is technically possible to stream video to users on demand. And given that broadband adoption has skyrocketed in recent years, combining this streaming technology with a peer-to-peer network should not be rocket science. I'm not saying this must have been easy, but there is nothing very new about the technology Joost uses as far as I can see.
The end result could be very compelling: given enough providers of good video, it will be an on-demand like TV experience. The problem has always been with finding enough content providers. Looking at winamp today I still get the same types of channels I got years ago: some cartoons, some home made stuff and some cheap porn. The technology is there, but apparently the content providers aren't.
Joost seems very well implemented and it is definitely nicely executed. The interface looks slick, there is lots of content to choose from and the quality is... well... acceptable. But the content they show is content that I could have already gotten elsewhere on the web. Sure, they've brought it together in a single interface, saving me a lot of searching, but still... it's the same old content.
And they don't seem to include content from any of the big players. On one hand it's nice to be able to watch sketches from Boom Chicago in Amsterdam, but what if I want to watch an episode of Friends or Seinfeld? And it's also great to see they've got a channel showing clips from 5th gear, but what i I'd rather see some footage of the big car show we had locally? Even with the amount of content Joost seems to have indexed, it still doesn't seem to match my needs. And isn't that what the internet is about? Matching our needs.
In short: I'm not sure about Joost. Maybe the brilliance of it just hasn't hit me yet. Or maybe I'm just not their target audience. If either of those changes, I'll let you know.