My friend Om Malik says that he has it on good authority that Joost — the much-hyped P2P online video startup run by the founders of Skype and Kazaa — is planning to kill its desktop client. This news was likely met in many quarters by a resounding cry of “What took so long?” Although the first few iterations of Joost’s client showed some promise, the app soon became (in my view at least) a bloated front-end to a lacklustre service. There were hints of some interesting features, such as the semi-transparent live chat window that you could bring up while watching a show, but too few of them were realized.
And while Joost was trying to get its act together, online video was maturing, and competitors such as Hulu.com have changed the game considerably. Joost has other problems apart from its download client, mind you — one of the major ones being a lack of compelling content, something that Hulu has in spades. And there’s a direct relationship between that and Joost’s biggest problem, which is that the service is too much like regular TV: you can’t watch whatever you want, when you want, or download it or do anything else with it, because the networks and other content companies won’t let you.
It’s going to take a lot more than a switch from a desktop client to Web streaming to solve that problem. And as Webware reports, even though the new service will stream through your browser, you still have to install a pretty whopping plugin.