Richi Jennings

Joost: what Skype's founders did next (and blognotes)

January 16, 2007 6:01 AM EST
Joost say yes to IT Blogwatch, in which P2P IPTV pusher The Venice Project launches as Joost. Not to mention Hugh MacLeod's random notes on blogging...

Joost's Fredrik de Wahl blogged the announcement:
Today is a big day for us. Today we've parted ways with our "codename" and will forever more be known by our real name... Joost™!
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Getting to this point has been a huge effort. Our engineers, and the rest of our team have worked day and night - and while exhausted, I think we're all pretty excited about how far we've come from that initial concept... to this branded release. We're still in beta - but we're at a point where we have a great proof of concept - and a platform that we'll continue to build and enhance - with the continued support of our beta testers and our partners.
David Ponce explains, with screenshots:
Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis are two Swedish men with a knack for creating disruptive technology. First they turned the music distribution model on its head with Kazaa (sure, Napster came first, but Kazaa took it to the masses), then they poked a huge hole into the phone business with Skype. Both services share P2P at the core of their technology. And now, they’re set to take on yet another ailing institution: television.

For the last few months, they’ve been working on a project that until now has been named The Venice Project. Now named Joost, the service will consist of a downloadable software based on the Mozilla framework. It aims to improve and build upon what the likes of YouTube, Metacafe and Brightcove are doing by giving both content users and producers superior video distribution (and monetization) tools.

And let me tell you, it all looks very purdy.
Greg Sandoval should be ashamed of himself:
The two want people hungry for Internet entertainment to roost at Joost.
Darren Murph adds:
The road from here is quite rocky, especially when you consider the already well-established iTunes Movie Store, YouTube, and the variety of download-to-burn services currently available. Additionally, Joost has yet to nail down any "marquee partnerships with top film or TV producers," which will almost certainly make gaining marketshare an all but impossible chore.

The one thing this rendition has going for it, however, is the general experience in comparison to other alternatives, as reports liken it to a "TiVo-like layout" that gives users next to total control over the content at hand. The company has stated that it will support itself with internet ads that behave like television commercials, which presumably won't come as any shock to consumers partaking in what Joost has to offer. Unfortunately, there's no hard details on when the newfound service will go live nor about what content will be served up, but regardless, a little more competition (and a little less dictatorship) in online video distribution is more than welcome.
Nuno Bastei peeks under the hood:
So what’s inside the Joost P2P TV client? Basically, a classic media player, where you can switch back and forth among channels with previews of the program currently played on. Some “social” features appears through widget on the screen panel (pictured). While you watch TV, you would be able to rate the broadcast, and chat to your friends.
Cynthia Brumfield's take:
The big drawing card for cable networks, studios and other big-ticket content suppliers is Joost’s ability to distribute video over the Internet in a fast, efficient and inexpensive manner ... Despite the hit track record of Zennstrom and Friis, and the promise of more efficient Internet distribution, few big content suppliers have agreed to license their wares to Joost.
Joost's Pier Fumagalli breaks his monk-like vow of silence:
Hello, world! Pretty much everyone on the planet is going to post about it, so pointless about going on with long digressions on the how and the why... The thing I'm really happy about, though, is that given that we are "Joost" now, there are no other secrets at work that I know of and can't talk about! Welcome to freedom!
But why the odd name? Elias Kai has his own theory:
Why would they name it JOOST? Since the company headquarter or developers departments is based in Amesterdam, The Netherlands, then it is logical to name it Joost referring to Joost Van Den Vondell who was a German Dutch writer and playwright that converted to Catholicisms in 1641. Joost was an unpopular figure around the Calvinist circles.
Christopher Bach adds:
In Dutch it is a normal first name. I know a few Joosts in the real world.
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The TV application was also released with some minor changes. First, the name was changed and second, the user interface is now a bit easier to read. The available channels are more or less the same (I currently see no difference), but I am still waiting for a good news channels.
Joost Schuur agrees:
As a Dutch citizen who's never lived in the Netherlands (or speaks the language), my unusual sounding name has always piqued some curiosity, no matter where I lived.
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Hopefully, people will learn the correct pronunciation. The nature of my job means I email with a lot of our customers first, before we meet or talk on the phone, so they inevitably get it wrong. In the US, I've settled on the anglicized 'Yoast', although more appropriate would be 'Yohst'.
Erick Schonfeld wins the award for worst pun:
It's joost a name [groan] ... the empty-vessel theory of branding.  (Make up a name—like Cingular or Realogy—and invest it with any meaning you like). And I was just warming up to the Venice Project.
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What really matters is the experience and the content.  From the little I've seen so far, the experience is very cool but the content is still rather thin—think extreme sports and comedy shows that couldn't get on cable.  But the startup hasn't yet officially launched and it claims to be cutting deals left and right with some major media companies (which, of course, it declines to name).  Stay tuned.
Michael Arrington worries about brand dilution:
The strategy of using a code name for a pre-launch company is rarely used. The last high profile example was Marc Andreesen’s 2005 startup Ning, which used the working name 24 Hour Laundry until launch. It makes sense if the company wants to start marketing the product before the first choice domain name is acquired, but it also dilutes the brand name.
Buffer overflow:
Around the Net Around Computerworld Previously in IT Blogwatch
And finally... Random notes on blogging
Richi Jennings is an independent technology and marketing consultant, specializing in email, blogging, Linux, and computer security. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. Contact Richi at blogwatch@richi.co.uk.