Joost iPhone App: A Bit Disappointing


Personally, I can’t get enough of the new podcast features rolled out in the iPhone/iPod touch 2.2 firmware update. They’re now an indispensable part of my daily commuting. That’s why I was looking forward to Joost for the iPhone (free). It seemed to have the potential to provide the same kind of time-killing power and more, because of its library of content, which includes popular film and television shows. The app comes with some caveats, however, and it remains to be seen whether those limitations will prevent the app from reaching its full potential.

First strike, although it doesn’t affect users in the U.S., international iPhone owners may be disappointed in the library of available content. Unless you’re a huge fan of Naruto, which seems to make up all of the Anime video section. Many services encounter problems when trying to pick up international distribution rights for all types of media. Pandora is one high profile example, as is Hulu for video. That doesn’t mean there won’t be more content available in future. The Xbox Live Marketplace has brought video to Canada and other markets, albeit behind their American launch.

A second concern is the limitation of playback to devices connected via Wi-Fi only. This one basically dashes my hopes of having another distraction for the commute. And really, when you think about using the Joost app beyond the first couple of days, I wonder if the lack of 3G or EDGE support doesn’t become a deal-breaker. Generally, I don’t get the urge to watch television or movies on a tiny screen when I’m at home, which is where I use Wi-Fi the vast majority of the time, and which is also where I have a 32″ LCD TV that won’t provoke serious neck cramps.

A third issue might be technical concerns, as some users over at TechCrunch have reported connectivity issues, and audio dropping out. During my own tests with the app, I haven’t run into the same problems, and this one should be fairly easy to resolve with a version update.

It’s not all thorns, of course. There are also some significant roses. While people complained about the hit-and-miss nature of the library when the service initially launched for the desktop, there is some great content available. CBS is fairly well represented, and although the Movies list is relatively thin, there are some classics available, like Starship Troopers, which I love dearly.

While Joost may not have the best library among streaming video media services, their iPhone app launch is good news for everyone. It signals a significant maturation point in the lifecycle of internet television, and paves the way for industry leaders like Hulu to enter the fray. Japanese markets are already enjoying TV on their mobile devices via 1seg antennas, and there’s no reason we shouldn’t be enjoying the same sort of thing on this side of the globe. All that remains is for content providers to wake up smell the decline of tradional cable and satellite, and fully embrace the streaming revolution. Everyone stands to gain, the average consumer most of all.



@ Rin D,

That’s a ridiculous statement to make, and has no basis in fact. The same server is serving me content in Toronto as is serving me content in Buffalo, and they’re both probably located in Cali.

The reason they have problems with content rights in canada is that the canadian media companies own the canadian rights to certain programs, for example Global TV owns the new simpsons brodcasts, when they are shown on TV the Fox station signal is overriden with the Global TV signal, the Global Commercials and all.

Rin D

@ Hobbes Doo

The region restriction is to lessen the strain on the servers to external regions. Also, these companies would need to have relay spots in the regions or towards these regions in order to efficiently offer content there.

This is to keep things reasonable, since these web sites are in their infancy. Let them mature and then they can move to providing content to the masses.

Hobbes Doo

Lack of 3G/EDGE support is a total deal breaker for me as well as it is support for content outside of the US. I’m in Canada and I still find it very puzzling why content is restricted to certain regions. I thought content providers were in the business of making money by making their content available to as many people as they can. Restricting delivery per region seems dumb. If I can just drive across the border into the US (less than 1 hour from my place) and buy DVDs there, which I can watch comfortably at home, why can’t I do the same on the web? Sounds weird to me.

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