WiTV: the new Joost-alike kid on the block

20 08 2007

When Joost emerged from its Venice Project chrysalis late last year, commentators said it would re-invent the TV landscape.  Then came Babelgum and Veoh, products which have adopted broadly similar approaches: full-screen, televisual user interfaces paired with community features, such as the ability to customise channels and rate content.

Now it seems these three are to be joined by yet another newcomer, WiTV, conceived by the people behind the Streamcast Player.

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Details of the new service remain sketchy, beyond a currently small amount of blog chatter, but you can bet you’ll be hearing a whole lot more about this over the coming months. WebTVWire was first to splash news of WiTV back in June, following up yesterday with these screen shots. Hopefully the company will work out how to spell trailer before it rolls out to the public 🙂

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Differentiating it from the rest of the pack, WiTV is browser-integrated, so will work across all operating systems from word go — it’s only in recent months that Joost has released a Mac-compatible version, while the BBC’s iPlayer continues to vex Mac owners and open sourcers by only offering a Windows XP version in its initial release.

It’s stated that the service is compatible with Apple TV and Windows Media Center, bridging the all-important ‘last 20 ft’ PC / TV divide. If the developer’s claims stack up, the service also works with mobile devices and games consoles.

In these just-released screen shots, its backers have clearly been giving careful thought not only to community-type features (Skype compatability is mentioned in reports) but also to attracting content owners, through branded environments, as well as advertising overlays.

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Another key differentiator, it’s claimed, is that all content will be streamed directly from a central server. It’s already widely-known that despite being bases on a p2p architecture, Joost continues to server augment content distribution to its one million registered users.

As impressive the screen shots are, it remains to be seen whether WiTV’s backers will have the wherewithall to cut meaningful content deals: Joost’s formidable hype machine, the deep pockets of its Skype-founding backers and a liberal sprinkling of opportunism have allowed it to engage majors such as Viacom. Meanwhile, despite wheeling out Spike Lee at its launch to media movers and shakers in Cannes earlier this year, Babelgum has announced just 25 small, indie content deals.

One to watch…

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