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"TV Anywhere, Anytime" Gets a Boost...From Joost

The Venice Project Comes Out of Stealth With a Public Beta

  Combining "the best things about television with the social power of the Internet" is precisely what The Venice Project, which yesterday came out of stealth and announced itself as Joost, is all about. The aim, in other words, is nothing short of redefining the way people think about television. 

Joost, which describes itself as "a new way of watching TV on the internet," is the latest brainchild of the team that gave us Skype, led by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis (pictured). 

As previously reported last month,the backbone of what's now called Joost is what prime mover Henrik Werdelin in November called "a secure P2P streaming technology that allows content owners to bring TV-quality video and ease of use to a TV-sized audience mixed with all the wonders of the Internet."

Danish-born Werdelin was writing on the company blog of The Venice Project (TVP).

The aim of Joost is to give viewers, advertisers and content owners "more choice, control and creativity than ever before," according Zennström and Friis. (It is not a file-sharing application or a video download service, they point out.)

Who else is behind Joost, over and above Zennström and Friis? Some of the world's best technical and creative people, is the short answer to that question.

"Our engineers, advertising experts and content gurus," said the company's web site back in the days it was still TVP, "have joined TVP from some of the world's most influential technology organizations, entertainment companies and advertising networks."

Werdelin, for example, came to the new company from a role as VP of Product Development & Strategy at MTV Networks International, based in London. His new title, at Joost, is Executive Vice President, Creative & Product Development.

He was part of a three man group that started The Venice Project on behalf of Zennström and Friis. The other two were Swedish-born Fredrik de Wahl (now CEO) and Dutch-born Dirk-Willem van Gulik (Joost's CTO and currently also President of The Apache Software Foundation).

Already at the end of last year TVP was a truly international organisation with hubs in several major cities around the world, including Leiden, London, New York and Toulouse.

"The next months will bring successive releases," said de Wahl last month, "with more robust streaming, a video decoder which stutters a lot less, way, way more content, increased interactivity and a whole range of other features, tweaks and improvements (and a few nice surprises)."

No surprise is that Joost is going to be a bandwidth hog. The FAQ that went live yesterday states:

"Joost is a streaming video application, and so uses a relatively high amount of bandwidth per hour. In one hour of viewing, approximately 320Mb data will be downloaded and 105Mb uploaded, which means that it will exhaust a 1Gb cap in 10 hours. Also, the application continues to run in the background after you close the main window. For this reason, if you pay for your bandwidth usage per megabyte or have your usage capped by your ISP, you should be careful to always exit Joost client completely when you are finished watching it."
A Linux version of Joost is "in the works," the FAQ notes.

The direction Joost is likely to take is maybe best indicated by some of the core team appointments:
Stacey Selzer, ex-Citigroup, is VP - Head of Content Strategy & Relationships
Steven Allen, ex-Nordisk Film, is Transcode Facility Manager 
Stephane Bailliez, J2EE Architect and PMC Member at Apache Software Foundation, is a Senior Software Engineer
Sylvain Wallez, formerly CTO at Anyware Technologies and a member of the Apache Software Foundation, is Backend Development Team Leader
Cyndy Ross, ex-BEA, is VP of Product Engineering
Vipin Goyal, ex-MTV Networks International, is Senior Content Strategist
Zoja Bajbutovic, ex-DUSCO/SesamTV, is Senior User Interaction Expert
Philip Ingemann Petersen, ex-Strix TV, is Head of Channel Launch and Content Development
Peter Maersk-Møller, ex-Optimal Stream, is Director of Real Time Video Processing
Combining the best elements of the TV experience with the most powerful Internet technologies is also one of the key themes of SYS-CON's upcoming 2-day June 2007 event, Internet TV Conference & Expo (iTVcon.com).

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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