Joost Giving Up on the DesktopBy Josh Catone
According to GigaOm, P2P-based TV service Joost is planning to ditch its desktop client in favor of a completely web-based model. Om Malik reports that Joost will announce soon that it is dropping its downloadable client software in and instead will be launching a “small plugin that would embed itself in the browser and allow [users] to grab files using the P2P technologies.”
The reason, says Malik, is the company’s client has lost traction as the online world has become less accepting of the need to download and install client software.
Developing a web-based version of Joost has long been on the wish lists of fans of the company. About a year ago, independent Flash developer Paul Yanez created Flash-based versions of a number of offline video players, as well as slick interfaces to online video sites. His Joost mockup could be a preview of what an online Joost player might look like.
There have been hints that Joost has been planning this shift for awhile. In May, for example, Joost was advertising a job for a “Plug-in Developer” that required “Experience with scripting applications including FLASH.” And in June, Joost CEO Mike Volpi admitted that Joost had “a product that wasn’t quite right.”
For Joost, the shift online might be too little, too late, though. Premium content is already available on an increasing number of heavy-weight sites — like Hulu for free, and Amazon’s new streaming service for a price — while free, user generated content is still dominated by YouTube.
We’re also not sure if ditching the desktop completely is the right way to go. Having a web-based component is probably a smart and necessary move for Joost (or nearly any application launch these days — especially those that so heavily rely on the web), but we’ve also talked about how important the desktop still is for rich Internet applications.
“If RIAs are the future of the web — or even the future of computing — then offline/desktop access is supremely important. The browser is not a very good operating system, so being able to run applications on the desktop is an important transitional step toward [the] vision of Web 3.0 and the future of thin client computing,” we wrote in July. Of course, the release of Google’s Chrome browser this week, which is designed from the ground up to be an operating system for web applications, may have changed that a bit.