Google has not built an official YouTube app for Windows Phone. Why? We don’t really know but my guess is because Windows Phone is not that popular and Google doesn’t give a rat’s @$$ about the platform. However, Microsoft does care about the platform and they want people to use it. And having a useable, user-friendly YouTube app assists Microsoft in that endeavor. So Microsoft built their own YouTube app for Windows Phone. And Google has sent Microsoft a cease-and-desist letter, telling Microsoft to take down the app.
You see in the YouTube app Microsoft built for Windows Phone, Microsoft did three things that ticked off Google:
- The app does not show ads on YouTube videos
- The app allows users to download YouTube videos (which is against YouTube’s Terms of Service)
- The app allows users to view videos that have been blocked by uploaders for mobile users
Of course most people will probably see this as Google being evil. But, according to Google, they are trying to protect the interests of YouTube’s “ecosystem”:
“…by blocking advertising and allowing downloads of videos, your [Microsoft's] application cuts off a valuable ongoing revenue source for creators and causes harm to the thriving content ecosystem on YouTube.”
In my opinion, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Google does, after all, make most of its money through ads so blocking ads directly hurts it pocket. And I can see how blocking ads, allowing download of YouTube videos, and bypassing video restrictions would indeed hurt the YouTube ecosystem.
Now, does that mean I’m defending Google? No, I’m not. After all, Google CEO Larry Page just talked about how Google likes being “open” and desired for other companies to be the same; asking for the removal of an app is not exactly being open, even if that app violates Terms of Service. Indeed, this reeks more Apple than the Google we have come to know over the years. However, I do see Google’s side of things and I have no doubt Microsoft would do the same if it were in Google’s shoes.
For what it is worth, Microsoft claims the Windows Phone app doesn’t show ads because Google has not given Microsoft access to the relevant YouTube APIs; if Google gives access to the APIs, Microsoft will add the ads:
“We’d be more than happy to include advertising but need Google to provide us access to the necessary APIs. In light of Larry Page’s comments today calling for more interoperability and less negativity, we look forward to solving this matter together for our mutual customers.”
Microsoft has seemingly thrown the ball in Google’s court. But, as ArsTechnica points out, the Xbox YouTube app does show YouTube ads… meaning Microsoft has some sort of access to the relevant APIs, which throws their defense of “we can’t show ads because Google won’t let us” into question.
Anyone have thoughts on the matter? Fire away in the comments below!