News

Joost Scraps Video App

12/19/2008 7:00 PM Eastern

Internet-TV venture Joost last week discontinued support for its original software application — which had been central to its strategy of trying to reinvent television online — and instead said it would focus on the Web version of the service.

In early 2007, Joost launched a beta version of the software, which was designed to use peer-to-peer networking protocols to efficiently distribute high-quality video over the Internet. The full-screen program also was supposed to be an immersive “TV 2.0” experience with features like chat and an on-screen news ticker.

But Joost's software needed a relatively high-powered computer, limiting its potential audience. The Windows version required a PC with a Pentium 4.1-GHz processor, 512 Megabytes of memory, a high-powered video card and 500 Mbytes of free disk space. Joost videos also couldn't be easily shared, as with video sites like YouTube.

This October, Joost introduced a Web-based version of the service, allowing users to watch video directly in a browser through a player built on Adobe Systems' Flash. The service no longer uses peer-to-peer networking protocols, and doesn't require installing any of Joost's proprietary software or plug-ins.

Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey said the development means that peer-to-peer “as a platform for legal consumer video is dead.”

“The majority of what people watch on the PC is streamed,” he said. “More than half the country is on broadband and compression is very effective now.”

Joost notified users of the change in an e-mail last Wednesday.

“As of Friday, Dec. 19, you will no longer be able to watch videos in the Joost software application — but you will be able to find all of our videos, and more, on Joost.com,” the notice said.

The site offers a selection of more than 57,000 videos, from partners that include CBS, Showtime, BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1, Sony Pictures Television and the Warner Bros. Television Group.

Joost spokeswoman Kerry Vance said there are no organizational changes related to discontinuing the software support.

“We're focused on growing and improving our service,” she said, noting recent enhancements that include an embeddable player, improved program guide, integration with the Facebook social-networking site and an application for Apple's iPhone.

Joost's investors include Viacom and CBS, along with venture-capital firms Index Ventures, Sequoia Capital and Chinese multibillionaire Li Ka-Shing. The company has about 100 employees with offices in New York, London and The Netherlands.

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