Will it be enough? Joost to ditch desktop client in favor of Web-based player

It’s about time. Joost, last year’s “It” online video startup, has cast aside its desktop-only client in favor of a browser-based experience.

According to Om Malik, Joost will release a small plug-in that will embed itself in a browser to allow viewers to grab files using peer-to-peer technologies. The new browser-based video player is said to provide better quality than average video sites.

Since the story broke earlier today, NewTeeVee’s Liz Gannes has had a chance to poke around new.joost.com, which is password protected. (It will not be available to beta testers for about two weeks.) In the meantime, NewTeeVee, News.com, and TechCrunch all have screenshots and/or video of New and Improved Joost in action.

While the early, early reviews are mostly favorable — videos start playing in a few seconds, they scale nicely for full-screen viewing — it’s hard to work up any excitement for New Joost, which seems like another version of Hulu, the online streaming video joint venture from NBC and Fox.

Unlike Hulu, however, New Joost suffers from a lack of prime content. Without it, why even bother with Joost?

Joost, started by Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, the two entrepreneurs behind Skype, raised an impressive $45 million back in May 2007. Sequoia Capital and Index Ventures were the lead investors. And CBS Corporation, Viacom, and Chinese billionaire Li Ka-shing also participated.

Aside from the lack of compelling content, Original Joost was hampered by bandwidth issues, a less-than-stellar desktop client, and the lack of dynamic sharing through sites like MySpace and Facebook, not IM and email. Add it all up, and the once “It” online video startup fell behind the likes of Hulu to become also-ran.

Maybe this new browser-based strategy will be enough to put Joost back in the game. Doubtful, without improved content, but certainly possible in the ever-evolving world of Internet television.

See also: Joost Ditches the Desktop Player – Could iTunes Video Be Next? from ReadWriteWeb and Don’t turn off the life support just yet: Joost coming to the browser from last100

last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

4 Responses to “Will it be enough? Joost to ditch desktop client in favor of Web-based player”

  1. Say what you will about Joost. I personally think their browser-based initiative may be too little too late if they do not complement it with more compelling content in the same go. In comparing Joost to Hulu you are however ignoring the glaring fact that Hulu’s content will only stream to watchers within the US. That is to say streams from Hulu cannot be watched by pretty much the majority of the world.

  2. David Mackey says:

    Joost heading browser-based is certainly a wise move, but I agree – unless they can secure some premium content there just isn’t much use in the service. Where they may find some value is in selling their p2p technology to the big media players – e.g. hulu – as I imagine the bandwidth must be costing hulu a pretty penny right now.
    I split my video watching time between Hulu/Netflix/ABC. I also occasionally purchase something through Amazon’s Unbox. I find their UI nicer than iTunes and they seem to be fine with people re-downloading their previous downloads.

  3. Joost left a bad taste in my mouth when reneged on the Linux version. Complaints in their forums were all but ignored. After purchasing this Macbook Air I did download Joost to get it a shot, but found little to keep me hooked.

    They would have to absolutely amaze me before I’d consider them over Hulu.

  4. Brendan says:

    Does the new Joost still have an API or widgets?