Google and Microsoft square off over Windows Phone Youtube app

August 16, 2013
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Youtube is probably everyone’s most commonly visited video site, so Windows Phone owners will no doubt be disappointed to hear that Google is now blocking Microsoft’s Youtube app. But this isn’t a spontaneous decision by Google, the two companies have been arguing over Microsoft’s app for a little while.

The spat began after Google discovered that Microsoft’s original app didn’t included ads, and also came with a built in option for users to download Youtube videos to watch offline. Obviously this would mean that Google was losing out on revenue, and so the company asked Microsoft to remove the app from the Windows Phone Store.

However, Microsoft instead decided to simply update the app to remove the offending download button, and the latest version now includes ads as well. Sounds simple enough, and the problem should be resolved. However, Google has now taken issue with the way in which Microsoft has implemented the ads, but it seems that Google isn’t providing Microsoft with sufficient information to implement ads in the same way as the iOS and Android Youtube apps.

We’ve asked Google to provide whatever information iPhone and Android get so that we can mirror the way ads are served on these platforms more precisely. So far at least, Google has refused to give this information to us.
David Howard

This is where the whole situation becomes a little complicated, as it also seems that Google has asked Microsoft to build its Youtube app on HTML5, which currently isn’t used by the existing iOS and Android apps. Microsoft is reporting that there are technical limitations in Windows Phone that prevents Microsoft from building the app how Google would like, and now feels that Google is deliberately making up reasons to block Microsoft’s app.

The roadblocks Google has set up are impossible to overcome, and they know it.
David Howard

At first glance it sounds like Google is being a little difficult, but there are a couple of things to consider. Firstly, Google built the iOS and Android Youtube apps itself, so the company has previously been able to build the app how it wants and control the code base. Microsoft wants to develop its own app for Windows Phone, to keep the experience on par with the Android and iPhone equivalents, but that may explain why Google is hesitant to hand over certain pieces of information, and instead wants all third party Youtube apps to be built from HTML5.

That’s not an unreasonable demand, considering that Google relies on advertising revenue, and Google can’t really be blamed for a lack of HTML5 compatibility with Windows Phone. Even so, perhaps Google could be a little more sympathetic to Microsoft’s situation. But the biggest problem here is obviously for Windows Phone users, who could be locked out from using a Youtube app for months whilst the two companies try to come to an agreement.

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