Joost Launches: Video Interview With Mike Volpi

Joost, the impeccably pedigreed, funded, and hyped Internet TV platform is releasing its software to the general public on Monday. For those of you beta testers (like us) who’ve griped about the reliability and usability of the application, the company promises a significantly upgraded client, including a new navigation system, search, and an open API for third-party widgets. It is seeding the open API with widgets of its own, including synchronized watching and video markup tools. [digg=]

Joost is seeing 50,000 beta downloads per week, and with open access hopes to receive between two million and three million users by the end of the year (for this figure the company counts unique user IDs, not downloads of every upgrade of its player), CEO Mike Volpi said in an interview last week (see the video below).

Along with the launch, Joost is redoing its web site to better show off content on its free, ad-supported downloadable client, following the company’s acquisition of third-party index site OnTheToob. The web site will not, however, include much in the way of video — as some people have been asking for and mocking up — only a teaser player and pointer URLs to the desktop software.

Joost, which raised $45 million this spring, has 130 employees across London, Holland, Luxembourg, and New York. We visited the New York office last week and took this video interview with Volpi, who talks about things such as where he thinks people will consume content in the future, and how Joost plans to incorporate independent content producers. Volpi still shies away from the idea of an open platform, saying people can use another player to view user-generated (and perhaps unauthorized copyrighted) content.

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Volpi also told us that Joost will soon launch a synchronized watching widget, where, as he described it, “I can send you a poke and say I’m at minute 12, so we can start at exactly the same moment.”

Other company-made widgets include an annotation tool that helps users add subtitles and speech bubbles to videos (according to multiple reports, Joost competitor Hulu recently bought Mojiti, a company that does something similar).

We had first reported on Joost’s open API, which allows outside developers to access and improve upon its platform, back in August. Volpi said Joost would only restrict outside developers for “decency” concerns, but was perfectly fine with them making commercial widgets that profit from his software and user base (something other open platforms, like MySpace, have not always been so happy about).

Joost has added some more timely content lately, including Major League Baseball playoffs (in limited form) and newer CBS shows. The service has about 50 full-length films available to UK users, and 20 films available in the U.S., most of them from Paramount Pictures.


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