Joost: Meh

January 19, 2008

Seems like today is “whatever happened to Joost?” day, and since I’ve used Joost somewhat regularly, I thought I’d chip in with some standard-issue user complaints.

  1. Pretty much every time I fire up the client, I’m thinking, I really hope they don’t tell me my version is out of date again and I have to download another client. I just now fired up Joost and yes, it told me exactly that. It’s great to update your product on a regular basis, but Joost is out of control – it frankly kills my desire to use the service.
  2. Joost still doesn’t have compelling content. YouTube finally became useful when it changed from “gee, what’s on YouTube?” to “I’m thinking of a video and odds are, YouTube has it.” 99% of the stuff on Joost – I’m not interested in.
  3. Because of piles of half-baked content, they’re simulating the experience of broadcast TV – thirty years ago. While I once thought their mimicry of television was an asset, the tons of boring stuff have become a serious hamper to usability. There must be hundreds of channels in there, each with about forty shows a piece, so finding something to watch becomes a literal treasure hunt. The search feature works but is useless, because if I type the show I want to watch, odds are Joost doesn’t have it. Last time I ended up watching The Partridge Family reruns until I realized – I don’t want to watch this dreck. Joost has effectively recreated the typical television problem of 200 channels with nothing on. My hope of video on the Internet is to solve this problem, not recreate it.

I feel Joost has capable and interesting technology but is falling behind in content and as a result, usability. Ultimately, the video technology I want to see has the depth of a NetFlix library with the usability of Apple served up on a big TV. Give me the exact movie or TV show I’m thinking of, right now. I’m willing to pay for that.

It must be really hard for a startup to sign content deals with studios that aren’t willing to hand over the best content, especially when the same studios are creating their own properties that are direct competition with you. But that’s why Steve Jobs is worth his weight in gold. And ultimately, I don’t watch TV out of sympathy. I just ask, “where’s the beef?” The video service either has it or it doesn’t. The intermediate step of “here’s a bunch of middling content we were able to get rights to; we really hope you find something to watch” just doesn’t cut it any more.

Additional Reading: Paris Lemon has similar content complaints (but more sympathy), NewTeeVee writes about the firing of Joost’s CTO, and Mark Evans suggests 2008 may be the year of the “deadpool”.


  1. Cory OBrien says:

    I agree, and it’s too bad. I liked the idea of high quality video on demand, and the initial offering had some possibility, but the lack of quality updates and just an overall lack of quality content has made Joost an afterthought instead of the pioneer that it could have become. I hope they figure out some way to save themselves from their current path, though if they’re firing off chief tech officers, it doesn’t look good.

  2. webomatica says:

    Yep… it all just comes back to the freaking content.