Joost on Set Top Boxes? – SlingBox? Apple TV? AT&T Homezone? TiVo? Who?

3 min read

Looking at the Joost interface it will be obvious to many that this is something that you could imagine on your TV screen. In fact, the first moment I saw Joost I thought that’s exactly where the company wants to take it.

Mike Volpi, the new CEO of Joost arriving from Cisco. told The New York Times that:

Joost is a piece of software and it can reside on a variety of platforms… It could be on a television set-top box. Or potentially it could be imbedded in a TV set with an Ethernet connection, or on a mobile phone, or in some alternative device that might come out in the future. The flexibility is really high.”

Possible Set Top Box Partners

But who will this STB partner be? Joost could theoretically just go out there and strike a deal with any STB manufacturer to create a Joost IPTV box that will bring Joost to the TV set.

However, I’ll put my money on the fact that they are also waiting for a deal with a popular brand with a large consumer base.

Let’s look at the options:

Apple TV

The Apple TV is currently the most discussed option but also extremely unlikely. It’s not often we see Steve Jobs bundle his products with third party software, especially if it is going to draw attention from the iTunes store. That’s not to say the Apple TV hackers are not trying.

TiVo

TiVo has already been integrating web video onto TV sets for a while. It comes in the form of video blogs (or vodcasts) such as RocketBoom, GolfSpan and CNET News on a service they call TiVoCast, as well as video downloads from Amazon Unbox.

While a Joosted up TiVo is possible I can’t see TiVo going for it since they already have their own broadband video initiatives and the non intuitive Joost interface does not fit nicely on the back of the fluid and user-friendly TiVo interface.

Slingbox & SlingCatcher

SlingMedia, the company behind the Slingbox, has been building disruptive technology since it came to life.

The Slingbox allows users to stream TV from their living room across the internet to watch anywhere in the world. This means you can access your cable subscription and recorded TV shows wherever you happen to be (with an internet connection).

Slingbox are also creating the Slingbox which allows you to shows what is on your PC or laptop screen on your TV (similar product can be seen here). It is due for release anytime soon.

Both these devices sit nicely in your front room and are connected to your TV set. If these devices were bundled with Joost they would become an even more attractive and unique option.

This would be a win-win partnership for both Joost and SlingMedia and I could really see this partnership happening.

AT&T Homezone

AT&T has the Homezone IPTV service which is a video, TV and internet entertainment service that combines AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet Service, AT&T DISH Network satellite television and AT&T Home Networking services through a single set top box.

AT&T has already struck a deal with Akimbo to offer its internet video-on-demand service on its Homezone boxes. It’s kind of similar to iTunes (but on your TV) and the Amazon Unbox service on TiVo.

This shows that AT&T is open to adding third party IPTV services to its boxes. However, Joost on Homezone could cut into Akimbo’s service by discouraging people to pay for videos through Akimbo.

This conflict of interest could very well rule out the chance of Joost making it to AT&T Homezone. However, unlike TiVo, AT&T hasn’t been pushing their own web video initiatives like TiVoCast, so they could possibly be open to adding Joost to their platform.

Cable & Satellite Companies

I don’t think Cable and Satellite companies would jump at the chance of making people aware of Joost by putting it on their boxes. All it would do is power the wave of free internet television over its own subscription based options.

Cable and Satellite companies would feel uneasy about introducing a new platform with a new business model that could potentially open the eyes of their customers to free internet television.

Microsoft Xbox 360

Theoretically Microsoft could put Joost on the Xbox 360. Microsoft is already planning an IPTV based Xbox 360 which will make use of Microsoft’s IPTV middleware and work with third party IPTV providers like AT&T.

Since Microsoft is already working on a different model working with closed subscription services of third party TV providers, it is highly unlikely it will cut them out by introducing Joost TV for free.

Standalone STBs

This is a simple option for Joost allowing it to integrate its software into standalone off-the-shelf IPTV set top boxes.

The founders of Joost also created Skype, the VoIP phone software that is finding its way into off the shelf internet enabled telephones. This shows that the Joost founders are already a fan of this standalone model.

It is an easy route to the living room without complicated contracts, licensing agreements, and revenue sharing agreements that might occur from partnering with any of the above companies.

However, it means that the Joost brand will have to power sales and it won’t benefit from any existing subscribers that it would get from partnering with any of the above companies.

I personally think that Joost will try to do both; get into standalone set top boxes while also looking for partnerships with the big-name STB and TV providors.

Cast Your Vote:

What route will Joost go?

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