Joost (almost) Launches

Updated: It won’t be for another few days before anyone can join Joost, but the company has officially announced that it is launching commercially. Starting today, existing beta testers can now invite anyone to join Joost. Beta testers visit the “Invite Friends” widget in the “My Joost” area, and will be able to invite anyone they know to the Joost community. Both new and existing users can download a new version of Joost today.

Joost is the latest start-up by Janus Friis and Niklas Zennström, who had previously started Kazaa and Skype. Joost, earlier known as The Venice Project, is based on the same core P2P technology. However, the big picture of Joost is that it will lead to the development of highly personal TV channels. (Joost:It’s the meta data stupid.)

In an interview this morning, Yvette Alberdingkthijm, Joost’s EVP, Content Strategy & Acquisition told us that by the end of May 2007, Joost will be available to everyone.

She also pointed out that most of the content on the network is currently in English — the US and UK are the top two sources of Joost traffic. Canada, Asia and Western Europe are next. Joost currently has over 100,000 beta testers. (Joost executives said, 100’s of thousands, which typically means 100,000. Chalk that to hearing same line from different companies for about a decade now.)

Alberdingkthijm expects the company to have millions of users, though I think it is easier said than done. There are some practical limitations – the number of people with really high speed connections and the latest laptops/computers is a finite one. In fact, most of the true broadband countries — Denmark, France, Germany, Sweden, South Korea and Japan — are non-English speaking nations, and Joost will have to boost its content offering for those nations before getting to the millions-of-users-mark.

The company is looking to add more content and plans to grow in these non-English speaking countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America. Though English-speaking viewers are also getting more content as well.

The latest to join the Joost party is Turner Broadcasting, so now you can watch Sports Illustrated Swimsuit videos anytime you want. Ice hockey fans can also watch NHL games, while there are plans to add CNN to the Joost mix.

Last week, Joost announced that it had signed more than 30 blue-chip brands, including The Coca-Cola Company, HP, Intel and Nike, as advertising launch partners. Of these 30, 20 are US only advertisers and 4 are international advertisers. These ads will start showing up on the platform starting today, though won’t be in full display till end of May 2007.