Joost gets $45m to play with
Inflatable board rooms a go-go
Joost; the peer-to-peer video service developed by those behind Skype, has raised $45m from Index Ventures, Sequoia Capital and the Li Ka Shing Foundation, to "...accelerate product development, global expansion, localization, and service offerings".
Index Ventures are old mates from Skype, while Sequoia Capital are new to the table. The Li Ka Shing Foundation is based out of Hong Kong and their inclusion reflects the increasing importance of Asian markets for internet businesses.
Joost is technically impressive, but for a service still in beta-testing to describe itself as "...the world's first broadcast-quality Internet television service" seems a little arrogant, especially when the recent expansion of the beta has demonstrated some scaling problems and their current content offering is less than impressive.
Episodes of "Fat Actress", "Beavis and Butthead" and "CSI" (everywhere) might make the service attractive to some, but Joost are going to have to tie up some deals for better content than that if they're going to get enough users to pay off the investment; unless the service can be sold off before that happens.®
Joost an Illusion
I have been beta testing Joost for sometime now.
I too find the interface not very intuitive, in fact, to the less 'techie' amongst us I think it may be bordering on the confusing.
I do not have any issues with the streaming, maybe my BB connection is top nothc, but agree that the content is somewhat poor (apart from the Fifth Gear reviews - being a petrolhead these appeal!).
The way I see it, services like this succeed through good marketing hype and sadly this pushes down quality and promotes an inferior product to dominate the market place.
Skype has already done this with a product that's proprietary, not properly supported by the vast majority of VoIP hardware, doesn't integrate well with SIP supporting based mobile phones, and still generally requires a PC to be switched on somewhere to even work. Good marketing and clueless consumers however mean that it's a success.
In many ways they've borrowed the business model of Sky (hmm, hang on, even the name has 'Sky' in it and the font is a bit similar to Sky's as well...).
iPod is another. Whilst the device itself isn't inferior in quality, the music downloads are, but analysts have concluded that people don't want quality, they want convenience. They are right that people want convenience but I feel they are wrong about not wanting quality also. They miss the point that people don't just want to exclusively listen to music on a portable device. I worry that CDs will dissapear some day and the only available music will be on poor bitrate DRM downloads.
Same with broadband video which I suspect will mainly succeed on portable devices partly because of the quality issues and partly due to more analysis which will tell marketing bods that people want portable video. Personally I don't find the idea of watching video on a train or bus particularly attractive, but if the name is big enough and people are told they want it, they'll buy it.
Does it work for you?
I've tried Joost a few times over the past few months, and never had it work. I'd get an advert for Joost fine, show the intro, stutter then display "sorry this channel is no longer working" .