Joost: The PointCast of 2007?

No startup has been more unanimously embraced (and hyped) by Big Media than Joost, the latest in a long line of (so far) failed attempts to bring television to the Internet.  Today, for example Joost announced a partnership with VH-1, in which Joost will premiere a new VH-1 series before it runs on TV. 

Joost is certainly slick, and its non-user-posted features are certainly friendlier to incumbent TV networks than, say, YouTube.  But do Internet users actually like it?  How many users does it actually have, anyway?

The Joost software that we beta tested reminded us of 1) television, which we like to watch at night and on the weekends but not at work, where we use the Internet most, and 2) PointCast, the bandwidth and processing hog that enjoyed a brief burst of buzz in the mid-to-late 90s before annoyed users began ripping it off their PCs.  For the sake of Joost fans (and Big Media), we hope Joost has a longer life than PointCast, but we haven’t seen any numbers that make us sure that this will be the case.

Joost took the VH-1 announcement opportunity to note that it has “more than 500,000 users.”  It’s possible that this means it has “more than 500,000 regular viewers who use the service at least once a week”, but it’s also possible that this means “downloads.”  Clarification here would be nice.  Some sense of a growth trajectory and churn would also be helpful: Is the 500,000 growing…or stable (or worse)?  Do new users use the service more as they get used to it…or do they try it out a few times and then abandon it?

We’re open-minded and would be glad to look at any data that can provide insight into Joost’s future.  For now, however, count us among those who think the hype may exceed reality.

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