Joost - the future of TV

[intro]The brains behind Kazaa and Skype are have turned their attention to the world of TV – and I'm blown away by the beta version of their softw

Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis want to shape the future of TV. Which is why they've come up with a peer-to-peer video application called Joost (formerly known as The Venice Project).

Why should they succeed in a market full of Youtube me-toos? Well, for a start they have a pretty impressive track record, having founded the KaZaA peer-to-peer file sharing network before setting up Skype, which they sold to eBay last year for a $2.6bn. In cash.

Then there's the fact that, unlike KaZaA, Joost is legit. It has the support of some big-name content providers, including Paramount, MTV, XL records (home of Basement Jaxx and The Prodigy) and Ministry of Sound TV.

And finally, there's the brilliant software - I downloaded a beta version last week and spent the weekend with a Mac Mini hooked up to my TV, browsing music videos, sporting highlights and shows like Guinness Book of World Records. At present it's full of glitches, and without a critical mass of users the peer-to-peer network often stalls, but the interface is clear and easy to use and the video quality is decent (it uses the H.264 format favoured by Apple, fact fans). Plus, there are loads of interactive widgets that allow you to rate shows, chat with other viewers or access behind-the-scenes info.

Best of all, it's free. But unlike YouTube, Joost does have a fully functioning business model - targeted video adverts, which are a small price to pay for such a powerful service.

If you can get hold of an invitation to Joost beta, it's definitely worth having a look. The software runs ons XP, Vista and Intel-powered Mac OS X machines – if they could just plug it into Apple TV, my life would be complete...

Oh wait... turns out you can run it on Apple TV, with a few tweaks. Isn't the internet great?