This morning Google admitted that it had yanked access to YouTube from Microsoft’s brand-new Windows Phone application. This came fewer than 50 hours after the launch of the application. Windows Phone users were predictably disappointed.
What happened? In the intervening hours I’ve learned enough to piece together the situation. Let’s go.
When Microsoft released a new YouTube application for Windows Phone in May, Google was not pleased. The application didn’t properly carry Google advertisements, allowed for video downloads, and wasn’t branded to Google’s liking. Microsoft took the app down, and the two vowed to work together to get something done.
Why, then, did the new application have its YouTube access cut off? In short because of a spat over building the application using native code, or HTML5. Google wanted Microsoft to build the application using HTML5, which Microsoft said that it cannot do because of technical limitations of its current Windows Phone platform.
So Microsoft rebuilt its application — again, in native code — to meet Google’s three initial demands. The company also told Google that it was willing to move to HTML5 in the future, when Windows Phone could manage it. (Spoiler: Microsoft is working on a new version of Windows Phone.)
It appears that the two sides couldn’t sort this out, so Microsoft launched its application anyways. Google obviously was not entertained and axed its YouTube access. It was also not pleased that Microsoft had built its own system to interface with Google’s ads so that they could be delivered to the application. It might break, and so forth.
Microsoft wanted access to the advertising APIs that Google itself uses, but was rebuffed.
Google said in a statement that it wants everyone in its developer community to follow the “same guidelines.” That sounds reasonable: everyone builds YouTube apps with HTML5. Except Google. Google’s two mobile apps, for iOS and Android, are built with native code. Precisely what Microsoft wanted to do.
This didn’t sway Google, who wants the darn thing coded in HTML5. So, Microsoft was stuck: It needs to provide a solid YouTube experience for its users, but Google won’t let it do so sans using HTML5, which it can’t until Windows Phone itself is improved. So, a jam. In a bit of a cheeky move, the company released its own app, almost daring Google to cut off YouTube. Which it did.
Technology: Stranger than fiction.
The real crux of this is that millions of Windows Phone users can’t YouTube on the go via an app. Of course, they can watch YouTube on Internet Explorer on their Windows Phone handsets. Whatever the case, Google and Microsoft continue to slap each other. This isn’t over.
Update: Microsoft has written its own blog post that addresses the HTML5 spat in detail.
[Image via Flickr]