When SKYPE debuted just a few years ago, the effect was like a sheet of ice breaking off the arctic tundra: People stopped in their tracks and watched – taken back by the majesty of it all. Most of all, established telephone service providers couldn’t believe their eyes. “Free” telephone service was here and it took pretty much everyone by storm.
The same founders of SKYPE — Sweden’s Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis — are hoping to do the same thing with television that they did with a telephones. They are gearing up to unleash Joost (pronounced “juiced”) on a public hungry for new ways to watch television and more and do it all on their computers. Joost is poised to be a new way of watching TV on the internet — using new and established technologies – in providing the best of both the internet and TV worlds. Joost technicians are in the process of making it as TV-like as they can. According to www.joost.comthe site will come with programming, channels and advertising. All the things you’ve come to expect on regular television. Joost will also offer some things that Zennstrom and Friis hope will enhance the TV experience: unique ways to search for your favorite program while adding innovative feature like a chat function. Joost — which early on was referred to as TheVenice Project — is still in the BETA testing stage but interested individuals can register right now by logging on to www.joost.com.
The concept of internet television seems like a natural evolution in the world of communication and multimedia. In the same way that regular old e-mail was bumped by many in favor of MSN or YAHOO Messenger. Which in turn evolved into live-chat lines via a webcam, internet television and Joost appears to be the logical way of the future.
According to an article published on www.news.zdnet.com, Zennstrom and Friis, — who by the way sold Skype to eBay Inc. for a staggering $2.6 billiondollars — have said that Joost will combine aspects of file-sharing software and regular broadcast television. Joost may even eventually attempt a move onto standard television sets, but Zennstrom and Friis have remained adamant that their initial goal is to provide a service that makes it easier and more fun to watch television over the Internet.
According to the FAQ on www.joost.com, users will be initially required to download free software (like they do for SKYPE). The program would then allow these individuals to browse the Internet for channels and clips of interest, rather than having to call an actual cable or satellite operator.
A valid point was made on www.technology.canoe.ca which says Joost’s biggest challenge will come from the competition it expects to face from a host of rival products and services. Joost representatives addressed these internal concerns within the company by standing beside the fact that with Zennstrom and Friis behind the project, Joost has to be considered a serious player within the online community. A lesser company may have greater concerns, but given the success the founders had with SKYPE it’s difficult not to respect the inroads that have been made with Joost.
According to technology.canoe.ca, Joost has already been tested on a number of individuals who praise the service for its ease of use, nice interface and intuitive design.
Joost will apparently generate revenues by being ad-supported, but advertising will be less frequent than on regular TV. Viewers will also have a broader selection of programming and will be able to watch whatever they want whenever they want to watch it. An on-screen menu allows users to switch channels with a click of a link. Users will also have TiVo-like control of the content and access to any show offered regardless of time of day. They can also can skip ahead or backward within a show.
Furthermore, the plan — according to www.news.zdnet.com is to offer studios, cable stations and anyone else who wants to distribute high-quality video over the Internet, a fast, efficient and cheap distribution method. The CEO of Joost — Fredrik de Wahl — was quoted as saying that in order to accomplish these distribution goals the company will rely on the peer-to-peer technology that helped Friis and Zennström build Skype into the powerhouse is was (and still is).
What seems an even better fit, is that Joost is coming along at exactly the same time that many Hollywood studios are looking for ways to get their product more accessible on the internet as a way of fighting back against illegal internet movie downloads.
With more and more individuals spending more and more of their waking hours in front of their PC’s, it’s just a matter of time before television integrates with the personal computer as well. By all appearances, Joost is poised to be a leader in that transition.