Earlier in the week Joost, the online TV service from the founders of Skype (see our review), appointed a new CEO — ex-Cisco executive Mike Volpi. Considered by the tech industry as a rising star at Cisco, it seemed natural to ask what Volpi “the router guy” could bring to Joost, a product that is all about software, and perhaps more importantly, content.
Despite previously describing Joost as like “cable television without the need for a set-top-box” (since the software runs on a PC), I’ve long suspected that the company has ambitions to get its software running on something other than a PC that can be more easily connect directly to a TV. Drawing parallels with Skype which started life as a PC-only VoIP application but now runs embedded on a number of ‘Skype Certified’ handsets produced by companies such as Netgear, Belkin, and Linksys (owned by Cisco), it seemed likely that Joost would pursue a similar strategy, and take its software beyond the PC.
Now we know that Volpi will be the person to help Joost achieve that ambition. In his first interview as Joost CEO, he told the New York Times:
“Joost is a piece of software and it can reside on a variety of platforms… It could be on a television set-top box. Or potentially it could be imbedded in a TV set with an Ethernet connection, or on a mobile phone, or in some alternative device that might come out in the future. The flexibility is really high.”
Whilst I think getting Joost to run on a mobile phone is — for the foreseeable future at least — stretching it somewhat (Skype still doesn’t run on most mobile phones), putting the software onto a set-top-box of sorts is easily feasible.
Might the AppleTV be a candidate? asked Om Malik when he got a chance to put five questions to the new CEO. “We would love to put Joost on the Apple TV platform”, replied Volpi. “We know we can make it run on any operating system.”
Whether or not Apple would choose to partner with Joost is another question, as is whether Steve Jobs will decide to open up the company’s set-top-box to third-party developers. Although, if the rumors of an Internet TV partnership with at&t turn out to be true, then a relationship with Joost is highly unlikely.
(For those AppleTV owners who are willing to brave it, some people have already managed to get Joost running on the device.)
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