Video streaming service Joost—developed by the founders of Skype and once hailed by some as the true hope for Internet-enabled television—has decided to pull the plug on its client software and continue as a purely browser-based video streaming service. Although there’s no official word from Joost, apparently Joost’s desktop client software for Windows and Mac OS X will stop functioning December 19, 2008. Joost announced its browser-based service built on Adobe Flash technology back in October.
Joost launched with the premise of streaming full-screen video over the Internet, but also integrating social and community features into its interface, enabling users to chat in real time with other Joost user watching mainstream programming. The company also quickly lined up a strong slate of content partners, including CNN, CBS, Jump, Comedy Central, Warner Brothers, and others, and build on P2P-based technology to deliver content to users efficiently.
However, while Joost was one of the first major players in the online video marketplace, it has had a tough time differentiating itself from studio-based offerings like the Fox-NBC partnership Hulu, download services like Apple’s iTunes, offerings from individual networks and studios, and (of course) the 400-pound gorilla of online video, YouTube. While YouTube supports a strong user community, the community and interactivity features in the Joost client software were unique, and aren’t matched by the Web site offering. And Joost’s competitors are increasingly ramping up their own community and interactivity features, which will make it even more difficult for the service to differentiate itself.
Joost recently released a client application for the iPhone; it will apparently continue to function after Joost’s desktop clients are retired.