Sunday, October 26, 2008

Joost: A Eulogy


I know, I know. I swore I would never mention Joost again. But they made some rather radical changes, which I thought merited a *new* final blog. Joost launched a year and change ago, promising to revolutionize television over the internet for ALL computer users (read: Windows, Mac and Linux). Unfortunately, their freshman effort produced a Windows-only client that was a disappointment even for it's target audience. The program, which utilized P2P technology similar to Skype, was plagued by stuttering video and audio, frequent crashes, and sometimes you couldn't even connect! All the meanwhile, Mac and Linux users waited patiently for a promised beta-version of the client, so we could have..... something. Multiple broken promises and disappointments later, Joost has returned to the internet TV game with a flash-driven browser client. This time, Mac and Linux users can join the party. But there are still problems...

First off, Joost still sucks. I click on 30 Days of Night-Episode 1, and Episode 2 plays instead. Also, the same lame shampoo commercial plays the SECOND you click on ANYTHING! And finally, they don't actually have any mainstream TV or movie content. Everything is either 20 years old, or ridiculously obscure. The user-interface also leaves something to be desired.

Second, Joost is a day late and a dollar short. While they were trying to put the wheels back on their Windows client and designing a Windows webbrowser plugin (which also failed), Hulu was amassing a HUGE user-base by bringing users EXACTLY what we were asking for. Easy-to-access and decent quality TV over the internet. Hulu's flash-based service works for Windows, Mac and Linux, it's reliable, the ads are less frequent than TV (although somewhat repetitive), and there are even some social networking features that are being worked in. Best of all, it has CONTENT! Heroes, Burn Notice, Terminator, Family Guy, The Office, you name it. And if you want older shows, look no further. While Joost has a bunch of old crap like Starhunter that no one watched when it first aired, Hulu has got stuff like Miami Vice. I just watched half of Season 2! On a sidenote, that was a STARK reminder that fashion has changed A LOT since the 80's. Whew!

Final word: Joost should pack it in. They made critical errors and seem not to have learned anything from the experience. They broke promises to the early adopter community. They oversold the capabilities of their Windows client. And in the end, they took too long to course correct. In the words of my little sister when she was 8-years-old, "too bad, so sad." Vive le Hulu!
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