Thursday, February 15, 2007

The next big thing

The internet has slowly and surely crawled into my psyche and it is little wonder that I can live in peace even if I didn't have a T.V at home. To be a bit more specific, it is Web 2.0 that has really brought about this change from a couch potato to a ermm... laptop tomato. Suddenly I could afford to skip primetime hits like 24, House, Heroes, Smallville, Prison Break... that I have been religiously watching on T.V. No, I am not talking about torrents, but apparently television studios have recognized the importance of the internet and stream the episodes of current seasons on their official websites. Of course, this is only for the privileged few (by which I mean users in the US!). Apart from T.V shows, I had Sopcast come to my rescue when I wanted to watch the English Premier League and live cricket. Of course, this wasn't legal but nonetheless, like most illegal Internet-based technologies, brilliant stuff. It used the power of P2P (peer to peer) technology - read Napster, Kazaa - to stream content. Instead of downloading you were streaming, which solved the bandwidth issue with overloaded servers. So more the peers, more the speed of streaming and hence during big live games you will get brilliant speed and pretty good quality.

Now what I am getting at, is an application that intends to incorporate television with this P2P technology. I had been to their website a week back and they were looking for beta testers, so I put my email address in their queue. Yet to get a reply. I'll wait. Today I found this link though a month old that interviews the people behind the application called Joost, also known as The Venice Project. The main men involved in this are another pair of those formidable Internet duos (not Sergey Brin and Larry Page) - Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, the guys behind Kazaa and the guys behind Skype. They sold off the latter to ebay for a cool $2.6 billion. Traditionally, both their killer apps have been free. But this time they are looking at going the legal way by bringing production houses on-board. To quote from the article here's an excerpt:
In a little conference room tucked behind a bull pen bustling with new hires, Friis flips open the laptop. He pokes a few keys, locates a Wi-Fi network, hits a few more keys. Then, with a final click and the slightest little smile, he spins the machine around and -- how about that: a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert, running full-screen. Another click. Razor-sharp footage of pandas munching shimmering stalks of bamboo. Click. Fear Factor, back from the grave. Click. Earth: Final Conflict. Click. Rocky and Bullwinkle.

Laptop TV! Not to mention desktop and palmtop. "It even looks pretty good hooked up to my plasma," Friis says. How do you say touché in Danish?

But he's not finished. A flick of the cursor brings up a see-through virtual remote control with buttons for Play, Stop, Skip, and Reverse -- plus something novel: a box labeled Search. An icon at screen left opens a translucent program guide that lists Indy Racing, Warner Music, National Geographic, and other attractions interlaced with personalized "smart channels." How many? "Basically, it's infinite," Friis says. Another click opens a palette of widgets straight out of a late-model online social network: buddy list, IM, and options to "Rate It!" and "Share What I'm Watching!" Then up to the top for a window labeled Content Owner's Area. "We're still working on that."

"Pretty cool, yes?" he asks.


I say Yes too. And in typical childish Boratishness I add, 'I like. I like.' to that. Even if half the things promised comes true, it is like entering the next level of awesomeness (and at this point I proceed to jump with joy). Also a potential blow for traditional cable operators, and disruptive towards broadcasters who are currently bringing their shows online. The article did not acknowledge the prescence of softwares that already exist (like Sopcast) but gives a solution that might prove to be legal and profitable without actually burdening the end user, both financially and mentally (apparently the ads will be reduced by 90%!).Of course from the HDTV-like screen shots it already looks like a winner. Howevere Youtube and the like wouldn't have to fear for the moment because they are not yet big on the users-uploading-their-own-channels bit, citing possibilities of users uploading copyright material.

But till then I'll wait for my turn (if at all I get a mail from the geeks at Joost) for beta testing. And yeah, if any of you beta-testers reading this have an invite-token send me one.



  1. really scaring me with the frequency of ur posts.. and nice to read u write about technology for a change.. thanks for the info, Joost looks like an interesting thing except.. the whole format is intentionally being made "like traditional tv" why do we possibly need to limit it to be like traditional tv??
    and hey "A Linux version is also in the works" according to the website. cool..

  2. [Amit]
    The T.V is still a good thing, but advertising and the cable guys make it annoying. You would be rid of these cable middlemen for sure. Of course having 30 commercial breaks is not much of a trouble unlike the current situation.
    And it's not exactly like traditional TV, it's more interactive and the possibilities are limitless.

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