Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Microsoft: Google Is (Still) Blocking Us From Building YouTube for Windows Phone

Microsoft today said that Google executives have blocked a full-featured YouTube app for Windows Phone, via a blog post from one of its chief lawyers.

windows_phonesThe company is trying to put a little public antitrust pressure on Google, given the context of impending American and European decisions about Google’s behavior in search and advertising.

But the YouTube issue is not a new one; Microsoft has complained about it to regulators multiple times since 2010. YouTube clients for Android and iPhone have fuller search, favorites and ratings capabilities, while YouTube for Windows Phone is basically a wrapper for the mobile Web version of the site, because it doesn’t have access to full APIs.

What’s new is that Microsoft is now claiming that people at YouTube are in favor of helping provide a good Windows Phone experience, but senior Google executives recently told them not to do so.

Wrote Dave Heiner, Microsoft VP and deputy general counsel:

Microsoft has continued to engage with YouTube personnel over the past two years to remedy this problem for consumers. As you might expect, it appears that YouTube itself would like all customers — on Windows Phone as on any other device — to have a great YouTube experience. But just last month we learned from YouTube that senior executives at Google told them not to enable a first-class YouTube experience on Windows Phones.

What’s odd about Microsoft’s claims is that there is already a full YouTube app for another Microsoft product: Xbox. That was released this past August, and was touted by Google and YouTube PR.

The Xbox app was part of YouTube’s new platform strategy to be more in control of the user experience and advertising on its apps. Other new apps in that group include PS3, iPhone and iPad. The question is whether YouTube really wants to get there, but is being prevented from doing so by its Google overlords, as Microsoft claims — or whether there is another reason YouTube hasn’t done it.

Perhaps Windows Phone’s tiny market share may not be enough to make it a priority — though Microsoft is well aware of that problem, and has previously built its own Twitter and Facebook apps.

Update: Here’s Google’s comment on the matter:

Contrary to Microsoft’s claims, it’s easy for consumers to view YouTube videos on Windows phones. Windows phone users can access all the features of YouTube through our HTML5-based mobile website, including viewing high-quality video streams, finding favorite videos, seeing video ratings, and searching for video categories. In fact, we’ve worked with Microsoft for several years to help build a great YouTube experience on Windows phones.

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google