Exclusive: In what is likely to be a major shift in the company’s strategy, peer-to-peer startup Joost is going to stop making its desktop client. The decision to suspend the client is likely to be announced soon, I am told. The company is going to a browser-only strategy, in which much of its content is going to be available through a browser-based player. Joost, I am told, will release a small plug-in that would embed itself in the browser and allow you to grab files using the P2P technologies. The web client is likely to have better quality than average video sites. (Update: Liz has an indepth review of the upcoming service along with screenshots.)
Joost had launched its desktop client with much fanfare but for a panoply of reasons, such as bandwidth limitations, software issues and lack of content, the company lost traction and usage of its client dropped. Joost isn’t the only startup to give up backing solely the client. Veoh and Jaman adopted a browser-and-client strategy, which has helped boost their audience.
Joost was started by Skype co-founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennström and raised over $45 million in venture capital. The company hired former Cisco executive Mike Volpi as its CEO, and in the summer of 2007, it seemed Joost was heading to the moon. Over past the 12 months, the company has had to tweak its game plan, trim its work force and refocus to a world that is less accepting of clients. The company wanted to be a key distributor of Hollywood content, but that opportunity has faded with the rise of Hulu.
Liz wondered about the possibilities of turning Joost into a web app, and well, it looks like that is finally happening. NewTeeVee writer Janko Roettgers had come up with five ways to save Joost when trouble hit last year — developing a web version was one of them. Killing the desktop client points to that.