Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Microsoft’s Anti-Google Campaign Gets a Boost, From Google

The_Trap_FilmPosterFor the last few months, Microsoft has been running a pointed PR and ad campaign against Google, where it accuses the search giant of screwing over consumers.

You gotta hand it to Microsoft: Yesterday they got Google to help promote their message for them.

On Wednesday afternoon, shortly after Google finished a marathon presentation at its I/O developer conference, reports surfaced that Google’s YouTube had sent Microsoft a cease-and-desist letter demanding that Redmond shut down a YouTube app it had built for its Windows Phone.

The issue, in a nutshell, is that the Microsoft app, built on YouTube’s public data feed, violates the video site’s terms of service, primarily because it strips out YouTube’s ads. Windows Phone users can still watch YouTube videos via their Web browser, but the experience isn’t as slick as a dedicated app.

So: Bad for Windows Phone users! But while it’s tempting to turn this into a he said/he said, there’s little to hash out, fact-wise.

There’s no dispute that Microsoft’s Windows app violates Google’s terms. And Microsoft, which has been complaining about access to YouTube for years, had to know exactly what it was doing. It also knows how to play nicely with YouTube, as it did with an Xbox app the two companies built together and launched last year.

The only question is why Microsoft went ahead and built the app anyway. Here we have to do some guessing, as both YouTube and Microsoft executives declined to comment.

So, okay, I’ll guess: Microsoft launched the YouTube app last week precisely because it hoped YouTube would make a fuss.

I’m also guessing that Microsoft is very happy that The Verge and Wired were able to “obtain” copies of the C&D letter.

I’ll keep guessing: I think Microsoft is ecstatic about the fact that Google sent the letter yesterday, on the same day it wanted all eyes on its new products and services.

And the fact that Larry Page closed the Google event by insisting that he’s got nothing but love for everyone, everywhere — even if they’re building rival technologies?

My guess is they have to be over the moon about that.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald