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Joost Launches: Video Interview With Mike Volpi

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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.

28 Responses to “Joost Launches: Video Interview With Mike Volpi”

  1. I’m just waiting for it to stop being a jittery, stuttering mess of a viewing experience. I’m on a new fangled MacBook Pro, so it should work fine but never has. Not even this new release.

  2. Matt Hendry

    Just to be clear Joost is no longer invite only and about time the widgets and hidden features the developers keep telling me about with really geeky (javascript) workarounds to access them are coming to the surface .

  3. Torgrim

    Oh, Joost :/

    First of all, it is proprietary. Which means I won’t use it out of ideological reasons.

    Second, as long as it doesn’t run on GNU/Linux, *BSD or Solaris, it isn’t available to me (there is no Mac or Windows-computer in my home, and that is not going to change).

    And finally, I could never trust a project created by the founders of the complete nightmares Skype and Kazaa.

    But I’ll manage. I have Usenet for TV-shows and movies, and Miro for other content.

    Torgrim the zealot. :)

  4. We all love and appreciate such reporting Liz. Didn’t mean to get personal, ever, but fanboyism absolutely stinks — be it for Google or Microsoft or anyone else!

    Thanks for this post and the video of Mike — Joost has slackened off late, lets see how they pick up in an year or so.

  5. Sounds like some interesting stuff. I will be anxious to finally see it in operation. Since I couldn’t get their beta, I have spent time watching this other site which is a similar model (legal content) with a lot of interesting content from various providers. Take a look.