Joost, the Internet TV based startup founded by Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis who brought us Kaaza and Skype, has taken the next step to full fledged legitimacy (as if it needed any more). It has opened up the beta doors to near infinite numbers. Each current user now has 999 invites to toddle away.
There are still quite a few things that need to be improved in my opinion before it is a 100% viable alternative, but it is making strides very quickly.
- Lack of content. This is a no brainer, but is the one it’s working hardest at. It’s done a much better job here than a lot of people with this chicken and egg problem, and is getting better all the time. Look for this to be a non-issue within a few months.
- Interface. Most of the interface rocks (I’ll get to that in praises) but the biggest ugliness is in the channel/program selection. You can only see nine channels at once, and once you’ve gotten into your channel, can only see nine programs at once. It did eradicate one problem with navigation where programs with multiple chapters like the World’s Strongest Man almost hid the true full length of the content until you were well into watching it. Kudos for scrubbing that up. I guess the grid paradigm of TV content is still too burned into my mind to get past to this new way. This is slowly going away as well.
- Widget sync. My widgets don’t sync from one install to another. This disrupts the “My Joost” experience in a way that no personalized home page I’ve ever used does. Google personalized home page doesn’t give you a new one for each computer. It’s a small gripe, but shows a simple detail I’d expect it to get right away that it just totally missed.
- Interface. Simply put – gorgeous. Some gripe about the auto full screen, but knowing it’s going to happen, I love it. You have an option to dump it down to window size if you want. This gives the most transparent ‘I’m not using my computer anymore’ ITV experience yet. Plus, the little extras like the old school floating dot on power off that TVs from the ’70s/’80s had. Add scroll wheel mouse interaction and intuitive icons with snappy response and you’ve got UI gold here.
- Persistence.This is the little engine that could – and will. It got CBS, for goodness’ sakes! Look for it to explode as fast and hard as Kaaza and Skype did in their formative days.
- Quality. The video quality is far superior to Slingbox, and much more responsive streaming wise than the major US networks’ own Web sites (NBC.com, ABC.com, and CBS.com). This is the most important point for anyone (well, maybe second to content).
- Issue turnaround. Did you notice how the gripes are being addressed? It is much more responsive to user input than most projects I’ve ever seen.
There are many smaller comments on both sides, but the most important and omnipresent ones are mentioned here.
If you want to try it out, comment here with your e-mail address and I’ll hook you up with an invite. Put your full name if you want, otherwise I’ll guess and send it to Firstname Lastname.
[tags]ITV, Joost, Kaaza, Skype, Television, CBS, ABC, NBC, Slingbox, Review, Janus Friis, Niklas Zennström[/tags]