Business, Software Programs

Google Blocks the YouTube app for Windows Phone. Again.

Windows Phone platform is having severe issues when it comes to filling up the ecosystem bar with even the most basic applications such as YouTube. The circle goes complete with developers needing the platform to get more users in order to be interesting enough for development, and on the other side there are users who won?t purchase WP-based devices since a number of quality apps are missing. With that old story told once again ? it is worth saying that the store is having more and more higher ranked titles?

The store even had a Microsoft-developed YouTube app, after Google officially decided not to support efforts from Redmond nor build any Google-service apps on their own due to the ?lack of interest in platform? (which, relatively speaking, still makes sense given that WP has around 5% global market share). In the very beginning of May, Microsoft decided to drop the ball and publish a new and feature-packed YouTube app. It even had the ability to watch marked videos offline and download them, and it was a native app which enabled fantastic system integration without ads. Merely days after, Google ?found out? about it and sent Microsoft a mostly unwelcoming cease and desist. Mostly, since the bickering situation apparently forced both companies to work together at the very end of the same month, which was more than a welcome move for consumers. Microsoft and Google were finally developing a Windows Phone YouTube app and everything was about to turn right and dandy.

Except, things got more complicated in time. Just the other day, Microsoft published a new variant of the app, which supposedly conformed to rules and regulations Google wanted ? including the mobile ad serving. The app stopped working soon after ? it was blocked by folks at Mountain View. ?This week, after we addressed each of Google?s points, we re-launched the app, only to have Google technically block it,? said David Howard, Corporate VP at Microsoft.

As a Google spokesperson put it, the company blamed Microsoft as they didn?t want to build an app based on HTML5 – "We?re committed to providing users and creators with a great and consistent YouTube experience across devices, and we?ve been working with Microsoft to build a fully featured YouTube for Windows Phone app, based on HTML5. Unfortunately, Microsoft has not made the browser upgrades necessary to enable a fully-featured YouTube experience, and has instead re-released a YouTube app that violates our Terms of Service. It has been disabled.? The statement concluded that Google values their ?broad developer community and therefore ask everyone to adhere to the same guidelines."

The initial statement from Microsoft merely said something similar, confirming that Google is basically blocking the app and that they were working with them (again) to ?resolve the issue?. The problem is that the issue can?t be resolved at all. Some hours later, presumably after all the phone calls between giants did not come to fruition, David Howard posted a thorough story on Microsoft?s blog, titled ?The limits of Google?s openness?.

The collaboration of the two companies that began at the end of May didn?t go well at all. ?There was one sticking point in the collaboration. Google asked us to transition our app to a new coding language ? HTML5,? Howard wrote in a blog post (emphasis added). ?This was an odd request since neither YouTube?s iPhone app nor its Android app are built on HTML5. Nevertheless, we dedicated significant engineering resources to examine the possibility. At the end of the day, experts from both companies recognized that building a YouTube app based on HTML5 would be technically difficult and time consuming, which is why we assume YouTube has not yet made the conversion for its iPhone and Android apps.?

Additionally, Google claimed that even with the new app, Microsoft did not follow the Terms of Service, as the newly developed application didn?t always serve ads based on ?conditions imposed by content creators.? When Microsoft asked Google to provide them the needed information to incorporate metadata needed for such ads, Google declined. ?It seems to us that Google?s reasons for blocking our app are manufactured so that we can?t give our users the same experience Android and iPhone users are getting. The roadblocks Google has set up are impossible to overcome, and they know it,? Howard pointed out.

Google hasn?t replied to Microsoft?s claims for the moment being, and it is unknown what exactly is going on between the companies. One thing is for sure, Google isn?t very fond of Microsoft?s Scroogled campaign and Android licensing fees OEMs have to pay, though things aren?t even remotely comparable. What might be the best thing for both companies is that Google simply and openly says that they don?t want Windows Platform to have an official YouTube app and hold out through the storm that occurs. At least things could finally be put in place. After all, YouTube is owned by Google. However, just for the sake if curiosity, it wouldn?t be overly difficult to imagine how things would go if Microsoft was on the other side of the story ? anticompetitive lawsuits aplenty.