I've had a TiVo for years now, and Joost has a very nice user interface that works for me like a TiVo that I can run anywhere, and which has tens of terabytes of stored programs, not just the 30GB or whatever that I have inside my TiVo. The other thing that is better than TiVo is the finding experience. I was able to type "Lotus" into a search box, and find two episodes from "5th Gear" where they were track testing my favorite car. The content is largely European TV at present, and they have enough programs to keep beta testers happy for a while, but are going to need a lot more as the program launches.
The display quality is good, and there is a short delay when a program is first selected, especially if its one of the more obscure programs. The networking is something like a securely encrypted in-order bittorrent. You don't have to wait for the whole program to load before you start watching it.
I posted last year on disruptive innovation as it applies to the moving pictures industry, discussing the concept of a maturity model for innovation, evolution from the cinema to thepiratebay, and a more abstract maturity model. In the final part I made this statement:
The final phase in the evolution of a market occurs as the cost of replication and distribution of the product approaches zero. There is no end user cost to use the Internet to download a movie. A central utility such as YouTube can use a mixture of advertising and premium services (for a minority of power users) to offset their own costs. Peer to peer systems distribute the load so that there is no central site and no incremental cost in the system. The only service that is needed is some kind of search, so that peers can find each other's content to exchange it.I was talking about how bittorrent based video is inevitably going to dominate over centralized services like YouTube, and there have been reports that most of the traffic on the internet is bittorrent. The inconvenience of bittorrent is that it is basically an overnight batch job to get a program. Joost fixes the problems of bittorrent, while staying as close as possible to free distribution. Joost inserts a small number of short adverts that the Joost client figures out how to target to your interests. These are intended to be enough to pay for the central seeding servers, and to pay the content owners so good programs become available, without becoming intrusive enough to switch off the users.
Based on my own maturity model, Joost is nicely setup to be the end game for this market. That doesn't mean that we stop going to the cinema or watching YouTube, just that Joost could end up being "bittorrent for the masses", and be an order of magnitude bigger than everything else.