Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

YouTube’s Homegrown iPhone App Appears, Along With YouTube’s Ads

Here’s the end of the Google-Apple-iPhone-YouTube app saga: A new YouTube app, built by Google, which should be available at Apple’s app store by the time you’re reading this. Just in time for Apple’s iPhone 5 event.

If you’ve been following the story, this conclusion won’t be a surprise. Especially since it’s what Apple and Google said would happen.

But to refresh your memory: Last month, Apple announced that the newest version of its iOS operating system wouldn’t include a preinstalled YouTube app, which Apple had provided since the iPhone launched in 2007.

The news caused many folks (including myself) to conclude that the app was another victim of the Apple-Google conflict, along the lines of Apple’s decision to replace Google’s mapping service with a homegrown version.

The answer turns out to be more straightforward. YouTube has been systematically upgrading its apps on every platform, and installing its own versions that feature most or all of the content the video site provides on Web browsers. The most crucial feature: Advertising.

That’s what YouTube has done with Sony’s PS3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360. And that’s what they’ve done here.

The upshot: Google will take something of a hit here, because its new app won’t automatically show up in new iPhones, or when iOS users upgrade their software this fall. Instead, users will have to manually install the app themselves.

But the new app will allow them to make money when people watch their clips on Apple devices, which hasn’t happened so far.

And that’s a pretty big deal, as YouTube points out obliquely in a blog post today: The company says that more than a billion views a day come from mobile devices — about 25 percent of its daily total.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus