Skype founders unveil "˜Joost' IPTV service

17 Jan 2007
00:00

(Associated Press via NewsEdge) The co-founders of Internet telephone service giant Skype unveiled the brand name and details of their latest project, a new Internet-based television service called Joost.

Entrepreneurs Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, who sold Skype for $2.6 billion to eBay in 2005, said the new project combines aspects of file-sharing software and regular broadcast television.

Joost, pronounced 'juiced,' may eventually try to move onto television sets, but it will initially focus on making it easier and more fun to watch TV on a computer.

Joost, like Skype, requires users to download free software. In this case, the program will help them browse the Internet for channels and clips they're interested in, rather than make phone calls.

'We're currently in a test phase with a limited 'beta' release, so we have content matching our base,' CEO Fredrik de Wahl said in a telephone interview. 'Comedy, sports, music, documentaries.'

Joost is owned by Luxembourg-based TVP Holdings, but it has offices in New York, London and Leiden, Netherlands, and expects to incorporate under the Joost name.

The Joost browser will be open for other software developers to create their own features. 'They may be able to make interactive plug-ins we can't even think of,' de Wahl said.

The service will be ad-supported, but advertising will be briefer and less frequent than on regular TV. Viewers will have a broader selection of programming and will be able to watch whenever they want.

Daiwa Securities telecom analyst James Enck said that Joost's biggest challenge will be competition it faces from a host of rival products and services, but with Zennstrom and Friis behind it, it has to be seen as a serious player.

© 2007 The Associated Press

© 2007 Dialog, a Thomson business. All rights reserved

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