What went wrong with Joost's desktop client?

What went wrong with Joost's desktop client?

Summary: The news broke today that Joost, the company which in a lot of ways was on the forefront of rich media, is canning its signature desktop client in favor of a purely web based portal. As a big proponent of desktop applications in general, and especially these hybrid applications which provide desktop functionality, I'm disappointed.

TOPICS: Hardware

What went wrong with JoostÂ’s desktop client?The news broke today that Joost, the company which in a lot of ways was on the forefront of rich media, is canning its signature desktop client in favor of a purely web based portal. As a big proponent of desktop applications in general, and especially these hybrid applications which provide desktop functionality, I'm disappointed. And I've got a few thoughts on why so that others in the space don't make the same mistake.

Content - Aside from a couple of niche shows, Joost just didn't have the content draw that a site like Hulu has. Content is king and new content seems to be in demand. Joost couldn't keep up.

Use of the Desktop - I'm not really sure why Joost used the desktop. It didn't provide any desktop-like features. You couldn't save things to your hard drive to watch them offline. Essentially Joost was just a desktop application that let you go full screen. When Joost was released, the web didn't have that, but Silverlight and Flash Player advanced enough where it became trivial to do in the browser.

Lack of Link to the Web - Joost had a "Share" button, but it only used IM and Email. People want to share and embed things on their MySpace/Facebook pages. This is something I think a lot of rich media desktop apps (including Adobe Media Player) don't get. If you want to do a desktop client you have to provide the benefits of the desktop in the context of the web. Let people take content from the desktop player and embed/share it. Ideally, even provide a way to access a bulk of the content from a web portal.

In the end I think a hybrid approach is the way of the world going forward. Despite the buzz from Chrome, the desktop still has a lot of benefits as an application platform. But the web browser has to be central to every strategy. The companies that can easily blend those to worlds - and then incorporate the mobile world as well - will have a leg up on everyone else.

Topic: Hardware

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  • What went wrong with Joost's desktop client?

    Agreed especially with content. I really didn't see a
    whole lot of content on Joost that I wanted to watch
    except a few Green Day videos. A lot of the other
    programs were the pits, especially the MTV based ones.

    Its been a while since I used it but while watching a
    show Joost would cut midconversation to display a
    commercial, then after the commercial go back to the
    program thus breaking up the dialogue.
    Loverock Davidson
  • RE: What went wrong with Joost's desktop client?

    The problem is that content should be completely separate
    from the client. From web services to ebook formats,
    something I've been looking into lately, the mistake
    developers make is tying content access to a client or
    format, so that the user cannot take what they buy or
    access through ad-supported or other business models
    and use it elsewhere.

    The problem is not only one of DRM, either. It is the fact
    that, in erecting "defensible positions" in the market
    software forces the user into a functional silo.
    Mitch Ratcliffe
    • Expectations

      Well, DRM [i]is[/] a means of erecting a "defensible
      position". That is its purpose. Originally created to
      "defend" the content creators/distributors/owners, DRM
      can be used to create a walled garden as Apple has done
      with iTunes/iPod.

      The question is why has Apple succeeded where others
      have failed? One common defense I've often heard (and
      used) is that Apple's use of DRM is fairly reasonable and
      unobtrusive in most cases. It doesn't noticeably interfere
      most of the time.

      Yet you name several examples of Joost's lack of
      functionality that Apple also lacks. For instance, you cannot
      take a clip of a movie you purchased on the iTunes Store
      (iTS) and put it on your MySpace or FaceBook page
      (although you could put links to movies and music on iTS).

      Perhaps Apple succeeds because it fulfills our limited
      expectations. iTS is marketed primarily as content for the
      iPod or for iTunes (if you want to play it on your computer)
      or for AppleTV. We don't expect seamless integration with
      the web. On the otherhand, Joost is "movies on the
      internet" more or less. And for most people, the internet is
      the web. Because of YouTube, Vimeo, and other video
      services, we have expectations of what we can do with that
      content, expectations that Joost fails to meet.

      That and the lack of content, I suppose. I don't know what
      Joost's content is like, since their system requirements
      were too high for me to ever use them (I'm on a 4 year old
      computer that works fine with iTunes, Hulu, Vimeo,
      YouTube, etc.), but as far as I've heard, there wasn't
      enough compelling content on Joost. Certainly not enough
      to force me to upgrade!
      Marcos El Malo
  • Joost desktop client had peer-to-peer support

    Maybe the biggest differentiator of Joost was that it (also) could use peer-to-peer for content distribution, just like Kazaa and Skype (the other two ventures of the Joost founders). This promised to really reduce video distribution costs. For some reason, this didn't work out - and I think with Flash Player 10, you can do something similar.
    Joe Data
    • That explains it....

      The client was invisible to the user as a cost-saver, rather
      the cost savings were apparent to the video distributor. So,
      how does the client app make itself valuable? Joost had
      several interesting features besides this P2P media capability,
      but it also erected another barrier by becoming a container
      for a different set of applications than one used on the
      desktop or within other clients, like Chrome, which is just
      another application platform from a certain perspective.
      Mitch Ratcliffe
  • RE: What went wrong with Joost's desktop client?

    I'm a Joost user and I enjoyed the client but I did have some complaints with it. There were a limited number of CBS shows per channel and they didn't always seem to be in order. I also didn't enjoy that when you relaunched the program is started with the last thing you watched instead of the menu. The channel creation tool was nice but very limiting. I wanted to create a channel of music videos I liked that were available on Joost but could only select only about a handful or so.

    I'm curious to see what the new version will look like.
  • Desktop vs. the browser

    The following was taken from [url=http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/2008/09/06/joost-giving-up-on-the-desktop/]the referenced article[/url].

    [i]The reason, says Malik, is the company?s client has lost traction as the online world has become less accepting of the need to download and install client software.[/i]

    If client software does not offer substantial advantages over in-browser software, virtually no one wants it installed on their PCs or devices. Otherwise they do. That is why client applications like Office and the iTunes client, and Windows Live client applications like Photo Gallery and Writer do very well. There needs to be a substantial advantage to installing a client application on a person?s computer ? otherwise people are not going to want to do so. Also, if MS wants to significantly paralyze Google's and other competitors? push to make the browser the center of user front end application development (and sideline the desktop), it needs to start pushing web applications onto the desktop while giving them substantially functional advantages over their web counterparts. E.g. if the weather channel had a desktop WPF client that cached a lot of data to the desktop (including video clips for superior playback), and provided a dramatically better user experience, people who frequent the weather channel web site would download the client and use it. I believe this action by many companies having web sites, would cause people to reduce their use of the browser by as much as 50% to 80%.

    I believe the web should become a publishing platform based on Internet standards, for a breadth of standards based and proprietary data. I also believe the web should provide ubiquitous, lowest common denominator access through the browser, but also significantly richer access through client software on PCs and devices. I believe when it comes to Internet applications, the functional and user experience gap between the browser and the desktop client, should compare to the Command Line Interface of old, and early GUI applications.

    Right now MS is making defensive moves against the browser, while structuring resources into how it believes the Internet should best work consistent with its software + services strategy. I think it would be great if we eventually see MS make offensive and significant blows against the central positioning of the browser, so that the browser becomes an adjunct to connected desktop application user experiences, rather than the other way around.
    P. Douglas
  • Never Worked

    Joosts client was exactly what I wanted -- a "tv set" for the web.

    The only problem is that only like 1 percent of it ever worked. Not sure why since news websites like CNN, and entertainment sites like Hulu make it work perfectly fine.

    About that only thing I ever got to see from Joost was that Freddie La Grande video which I watched about 24 times...that chick sure could shake it!
  • Funny detail

    You mentioned "Silverlight and Flash Player" instead of "Flash Player and Silverlight". Guess you are a 'LSB' kinda minded blogger ;)
  • Missing the biggest issue?

    Honestly, the biggest issue I had with joost was the client itself. Running it on my old pc (2.4ghz cpu, 2gb ram, nvidia geforce 6600) meant that the client took about 98% of my system's resources. That's no incredibly fast gaming machine there, but it really should be able to at least browse what joost was offering without taking 45 seconds to respond to every button clicked.

    Joost's client failed because Joost didn't realize that people want a sleek and simple client, and to be wowed by the client. Joost tried to wow people with it's client to cover up it's largely blase content.
  • desktop apps suck

  • Joost content was non-existent.

    I was a Joost user from its early days, would keep going back to see what's new every few months, and [i]nothing[/i] would have changed. The content was abyssmal to non-existent. No wonder they went belly-up.
  • RE: What went wrong with Joost's desktop client?

    Joost chewed up my bandwidth whilst boring me stiff - quark@