It’s hard to get people to concentrate long on anything on their phones and tablets, yet YouTube seems to be the exception. The video service is quickly going mobile, with small screens making up 40% of its traffic now compared to 25% last year, Google said on its earnings call today. In 2011, just 6% of YouTube traffic came from mobile.
Google’s not the only one rapidly shifting a 1 billion+ user base to mobile.
To put its transition in perspective, Facebook said it had 819 million monthly mobile users (73%) out of its total 1.15 billion users in Q2 2013, up from 543 million (56%) of 955 million in Q2 2012, 325 million (43%) of 739 million in Q2 2011, and 155 million (32%) of 482 million in Q2 2010. Note these people used Facebook mobile at least once, but may also have used desktop. Facebook doesn’t share what total percentage of usage comes from mobile, but 41% of its ad revenue comes from phones and tablets, up from 30% in Q1 2013, 23% in Q4 2012, and 14% in Q3 2012.
As former director of product management tweeted today, YouTube has been investing in a great mobile experience for the web and Android for a long time, and more recently for iOS since it took control of the app back from Apple.
Specifically, Walk says YouTube formed the mobile team in 2007 before there was much demand for mobile or revenue there. It transcoded all videos to be able to be served on mobile formats, and did a deal with Apple to get a YouTube app pre-installed on the iPhone.
The increasing importance of mobile to YouTube underlines the need for it to work things out with Microsoftand get a high-quality app released for Windows Phone. After months of back and forth, Microsoft launched a YouTube app it created, but it didn’t meet Google’s standards and was shut down. Earlier this month, a much-stripped-down YouTube “app” for Windows Phone was released that merely boots users to the m.youtube.com mobile site.
The latest YouTube mobile product news includes its plan to let users save and watch videos offline starting in November. Before that, it launched multi-tasking in its iOS and Android apps, allowing people to minimize videos but keep their audio playing while they search and browse for more content to watch. That’s especially helpful for people who use YouTube’s vast library of music videos as a music streaming service. These have all been well-received, and no competitors seem able to challenge YouTube’s reign as the home of user generated video.