Joost released beta invites to another wave of people yesterday and I finally got mine. I haven’t had a chance to look at it thoroughly, but my first impressions are pretty positive. Joost is an interesting combination of streaming servers and P2P filesharing to help speed up downloads. They also have made deals with Viacom to showcase a number of their properties including MTV and Comedy Channel programs.
The only real downside is that Joost still looks like internet video. In full-screen mode, the resolution isn’t quite high enough for my 1680 x 1050 display. It looks a little sharper in windowed mode where (I believe) it’s scaled to 1:1 resolution.
That said, my son and I watched the soccer channel for 15-20 minutes to watch a highlight reel of exciting goals from European matches (can Zidane strike the ball, or what?!). It was great to browse programs in Joost and pick programs similar to what you might see in an onscreen guide with your cable or satellite box. The playback bar lets you grab the pointer and move back and forth in the program quickly.
One thing I haven’t played with much yet are the Joost widgets that let you chat with other people watching the same program, rate the program, set favorites, share videos with friends, and so on. Apparently Joost is going to open this up to outside developers so that people can create their own widgets and share them with the world.
All in all, I’m cautiously optimistic about the future for Joost and internet TV in general. I think that the on demand, a la carte programming that a service like Joost makes possible is going to create a bunch of opportunities for consumers to get exactly what they want, when they want.
Apparently Joost is just around the corner. I received an email this morning (along with lots of other people, I’m sure) that says that they are very close to opening up the service to more testers and they will shortly add everyone who has signed up to try Joost.
Being able to watch Viacom properties online will definitely keep me interested in actually watching something on Joost. I’ll be sure to post impressions as soon as I get my account setup. I’d like to hear your impressions too.
If you haven’t already, you can sign up for the beta test from their home page.
OK. I grew up watching Star Trek re-runs (this was before Star Trek: The Next Generation and all that nonsense). I like Star Trek and I’m actually halfway excited that JJ Abrams will do a good job with the next big screen installment of the series. I own a copy of the Star Trek Technical Manual signed by James “Scotty” Doohan (may he rest in peace). Still, I would never go this far.
The 2007 SXSW web site has a link to their Artist Showcase for acts that will be performing at this year’s festival. It’s a torrent, so you’ll need a p2p client to download this. It’s got a pretty good swarm going (I was able to download at 700KB/s). My client is still cleaning up some pieces that didn’t pass the hash check, but it shouldn’t take that long to download. I got 960 songs last year, and this year has 739 mp3’s in the first release. There will be a film torrent posted at the same page, so keep your eyes open.
The Super Bowl highlights are up on the iTunes Store (which still has DRM) and this reminds me again that the producers of sports programming are missing a huge opportunity to cash in on the Long Tail Effect. Look, I could care less about Peyton Manning (the shameless shill!) and the Colts. I was rooting for the Chargers this year (my wife is from San Diego and we visit every summer). Still, I’m sure that there are dozens of Colts fans that will buy the highlight video from the iTunes Store to remember their team’s victory. Bears fans probably won’t be interested, except to watch the first 12 seconds a few times and dream about next year.
But I’d sure like to own highlight films of my hometown San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl victories under Joe Montana and Steve Young. Shoot, even a “Road to the Super Bowl” special featuring “The Catch” would be fun to own. Then I’d still like to get a video of UCSB winning this year’s College Cup (Go Gauchos!) and maybe some classic games too. Yeah, classic all-time sports matchups on the iTunes Store – are you feeling me now? Read more…
I religiously download all the freebies from the iTunes Store every Tuesday. Today, there are a few new items, including a free demo of Vortex, an iPod game (if you’ve got a 5G video iPod). This is the first time that I can recall seeing a free iPod game on the iTunes store. Personally, I think it’s great. The previews on the iTunes Store give you a small clip of the game in action, but I’d rather play a couple levels before I decide to plunk down $4.99.
Also free this week…
I’ve been thinking about how Parallels has said they are working on DirectX and 3D support for their VM software for the Mac. The basic reason for doing this is so people can play games. Sure, there are some other Windows-only 3D apps out there that people want to use on the Mac, but games is where most people would use this tech. So, I’m just wondering… could Parallels package this “special sauce” with WINE and make a compatibility layer for individual programs to run on the Mac? Just think if Parallels could license this out so that a game developer could release a Windows-only game with the WINE configuration files so that it would install and run correctly on the Mac.
I’ve heard all the arguments about how such a proposition might end game development for the Mac platform and I don’t think it matters. For other classes of software, people will want the OS specific hooks that come with a good Mac application – applescript, growl, iApps integration, keychain, etc. But with games, people don’t care about how the software interacts with the rest of the OS – they just want to play the game.
If Parallels can solve the Direct3D puzzle on the Mac, they should buy Crossroads and license out this Mac-compatibility sauce and get a piece of every single PC game sold from here on out.
Apple has just announced that they will carry full-length video downloads of college bowl games on the iTunes Music Store this year. You can already subscribe to season passes from ESPN College Football and Fox Sports that include pre-game analysis, player interviews, and future game coverage and highlight reels. I think the idea is outstanding. It creates a product for rabid fans of a particular school (or pro team) to collect. I’m pretty sure that if the schools and their broadcast partners market this correctly, they can charge a small premium for this type of content (over what they get for regular TV shows on iTunes) and still reach a huge percentage of the fans that would want to download this content.
My alma-mater doesn’t have an (American) football team, but we did win a national championship this year in the “other” football. I coach high school soccer and my son plays for a local club team and I have a huge interest in watching the game, or at least highlights, but there isn’t a current option for me to watch it. I would definitely pay a few bucks if CSTV were to put together even a 5 minute highlight reel and put it up on iTunes. They already put some of their ads online, so I know that they are aware of the possibility.
But I think these examples are just the tip of the iceberg in the story here. iTunes is enabling a whole new way to market media. Bowl games are not really niche products, but they have a limited lifespan for those that want to watch the whole game. Broadcasters can repackage the content by marketing to collectors and fans and they will reach a new market that brings in additional, previously untapped, revenue. Sure, I’m aware of the offers on TV to buy Super Bowl and World Series highlight DVD’s, but going through iTunes is going to make this a lot more accessible to the general public, particularly college students that (I suspect) would never buy a $20 Super Bowl DVD, but would buy a $6 season pass or a $2 highlight program to watch their team compete on the national stage and save that memory forever.
The best play I can think of right now is for College Sports TV (owned by CBS) to put up all the small school and non-network sports coverage they have in their archives on iTunes. They have their own streaming video service, for those that don’t subscribe to the channel through their cable or satellite company. But I don’t want to pay $15/mo to see streaming content, I want to pay $2 to see the Gauchos defeat the Bruins for the College Cup. And I want to carry that around on my iPod so I can heckle anyone I ever see wearing a UCLA sweatshirt on the street. Heck, I might even pay $15 just for that.
I absolutely love the concept behind this new game from Ambrosia. This classic side-scroller shoot-em-up looks like you are playing in a sketchbook with hand-drawn graphics. The game even lets you design your own levels and share them with other people.
The gameplay reminds me a bit of another video game, but I can’t remember which one, but the graphics take me right back to the classic 80’s music video from A-Ha for Take On Me. I had to watch the whole thing on You Tube again just for fun.
I’ve always been a big fan of Ambrosia for providing quality software at reasonable prices. In fact, Andrew Welch and I did a deal about 12 years ago to build a private-label version of the Eclipse screensaver (OS 7 or later only) with an admin backdoor so that we could still get into Macs when users left them locked.
If you create a cool new level, please tell me about it.