Joost Beta

So you may have heard of Joost, supposedly the future of (legal) television broadcasting over the Internet. It's from the guys who brought as KaZaA and Skype, so it's worth paying attention when they come up with a new product. So I signed up for the beta, and got in today. You can go and read my screenshot review on Flickr, or you can just read my conclusion, right now.

Basically: not ready for prime time, but it has some serious potential. There are a few questionable interface decisions, but in general it's slick and intuitive. Where it really falls down at the moment is reliability of playback: the content, once it's cached, is high-quality and smooth, but the download process is not nearly fast enough, and so content frequently halts, doing so so frequently that watching most content is unbearable.

Is this the future of television? Well, maybe, but probably not. It's interesting that they've got MTV and Warner Brothers on board, plus some major advertisers: this is a platform that the big guys like, which means there's potential for high-quality content on there, although at the moment it seems to be mainly second and third-tier stuff. It's also very interesting that Viacom, one of the partners in this deal, is suing YouTube, which is far and away Joost's biggest competitor. Will Warner be next to sue Google?

I shall watch with interest to see who else gets on board with content and what happens to the video quality as more users pile into the P2P network. But in the meantime, YouTube still has the edge: this platform has no viral sharing, and no user-contributed content, and those are both crippling flaws in the new world of democratized media.