As pointed out by the LiveStation staffer — who actually works for a company called Skinkers, which Microsoft owns a stake in — and by Mike Arrington in his post at TechCrunch, LiveStation just does streaming of live broadcasts and not archived shows, and therefore isn’t a direct competitor with Joost or Babelgum.com or the other TV-style apps, which stream archived content. If anything, it’s a competitor with something like Slingbox, which can stream your existing TV signal over the Internet, or with RealNetworks (Om Malik has a typically level-headed post on it). And as more than one person has pointed out already, the key with LiveStation — as with Joost and any other app — is content. Will Microsoft be able to get access to compelling content? If not, then LiveStation will become DeadStation pretty quickly. My friend Steve O’Hear has a review of LiveStation here.
This is an issue that is going to become more and more important as Joost and Babelgum and other peer-to-peer video apps become widespread. One thing Steve doesn’t mention is that many ISPs also have ridiculously tiny upload speeds, and this is just as much of a threat to peer-to-peer apps. It’s no good to have a big fat download pipe if the upload is a tiny drinking straw.
Of course, if you live in an area where Verizon’s FiOS is available, you can get 30 megabits download (no details on uploads or whether they use bandwidth throttling). As Cynthia Brumfield notes at IPDemocracy, there’s no such thing as too much bandwidth.
Nick O’Neill of Webpreneur says that Joost is about to pull off “one of the biggest fear-driven deals in history” by playing on the networks’ fear of the Internet, and Kara Swisher says on her Boom Town blog that the networks like it because “It looks and feels like a replication of the old television broadcast model,” which is a point I have also made in the past.
The alarm:clock blog says you will watch Joost, but Adario Strange at Wired’s Epicenter blog says it’s too buggy and too much trouble. And over at NewTeeVee, Om Malik makes some excellent points about the growth of Joost and the weaknesses of the peer-to-peer model for something like video. The bottom line: It may not be as easy to do as it was for voice with Skype. Meanwhile, Heather Green has some comments from investor Danny Rimer about what makes Joost so great.