There's nothing wrong with Google blocking Microsoft's YouTube app

There's nothing wrong with Google blocking Microsoft's YouTube app

Summary: It's Google's toy -- they get to choose whether to stop playing with Microsoft and run home to mommy. That's business, people...!

TOPICS: Smartphones
YouTube and Windows Phone

My favourite brouhaha for a while has been the on-again, off-again, "I'm taking my ball home!" battle between Microsoft and Google about Microsoft's YouTube app on Windows Phone.

If you've missed it so far, it's something like this. Microsoft built a YouTube app for Windows Phone. Google didn't like it because it didn't display ads properly (and hence limited Google's monetisation). Microsoft fixed it. Google still didn't like it and blocked it. My ZDNet colleague Mary Jo Foley explains the details properly, as ever.

Cue a huge fallout on Twitter with Windows Phone users accusing Google of acting inappropriately. (Although the language was stronger...)


The mechanics of what's going on here isn't really important. What I'm seeing is a general attitude out there that is some sort of moral argument that Google should go out of their way to make a YouTube app happen on Windows phone, whether that's one Google build themselves, or help Microsoft to build.

There's a weird attitude of entitlement, like if you happen to buy a Windows Phone and it doesn't do something you want, why is Google is to blame? A Windows Phone user doesn't get some automatic entitlement that their favourite services -- ahem Instagram -- will be supported on their device of choice.

The objective of any business acting in strong competition is to defend themselves against competitors, whilst not falling foul of legislation to prevent unfair practice.

One way a business can defend itself is by differentiation. If the experience of using YouTube on an mobile device is equally good on all platforms, it stops being a differentiator. Walled gardens on platforms exists for a reason. Why do you think you can't play your iTunes purchases on your Android phone? Yet now one is screaming blue murder about that.

Google is being perfectly reasonable, and frankly rational in their behaviour.

Of course, the facts of this as reported by Mary Jo are still wooly and, to my eyes, wildly illogical on Google's part. But regardless of the secret whys and wherefores known only to Google's management, it's their service and they make the rules. If the rule is, "Microsoft, you must write an HTML5 app", that's the rule.

If someone buys a Windows Phone device and a deal-breaker for them is that it supports YouTube, they shouldn't have bought a Windows Phone device. Similarly if someone buys an Android phone because they want to use Siri, they too have made the wrong choice.

I know that's harsh, but that's the only sensible way to look at it. No one who creates services is obliged to put those services anywhere other than where they, as creators, want them to be put.

Frankly, guys and gals, you made your bed...


What is missing though is a sense of professional deportment. This is a horrible mess and -- as my ZDNet colleague Larry Seltzer discusses -- Google isn't exactly covering itself in glory.

If Google wants to protect its revenue stream to YouTube, as well as control competition, the appropriate way to do this is to set-up a partner program together with adequate resources to police it. In this context, Microsoft would be Google's customer, and would have proper channels to communicate rather than relying on having counsel issue blog posts/open letters for all to see.

Of course, it's a double-edged sword. Windows Phone may now be so popular and worrying Google that any way they can find to starve it of oxygen. Or, Windows Phone may be so inconsequential that Google simply doesn't care.

Back to Seltzer's point, this does show Microsoft in a better light morally, but marketing-wise it's embarrassing. I suspect that blog post/open letter is to make sure Windows Phone customers feel supported, but actually it makes Windows Phone as a platform look weak. If it were bigger and more important in the market, it wouldn't need Microsoft throwing its weight around.

What do you think? Post a comment, or talk to me on Twitter: @mbrit.

Topic: Smartphones

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  • "Business" Means "Pursuing Profit Opportunity", Not "Reinforcing Hegemony"

    A successful business puts the needs of the customer first. All this posturing and chest-beating just puts the users off.
    • It looks like are

      ....regulators are needed! Few years ago it was Microsoft that was forced to not preinstall IE on their OS, but also give the user the choice to choose which browser they should install. The fines where high and that how we came to know and experience Chrome and Firefox and many other browsers.

      I wonder if this is the time Regulators should get involve in claiming that apps should be available on all Operating Systems and that no vender should have the right to block its app to be run on another OS or block data streamed to an app running on another operating system.

      It is sad that it has come to this point. The moral of this issue is that consumers should never be left in a position where they are coerced to buy mobile devices because the app they want is not allowed to run on the devices that they preferred to buy.
      • the title should read

        "It looks like Regulators" but not "It looks like are"!
        • Watching Microsoft beg

          The world has changed. God is good.
          Tim Jordan
          • Agreed MS has done a lot worse.

            Killed all competition.

            And now they have to comply with a TOS and don't.

            MS deserves this for its lack of foresight and lack of professionalism.
          • TOS?

            The terms of services clearly are whatever Google wants it to be for whatever client is responsible for the app. Google has made no attempts to manage third party apps that blatantly violate their TOS. 1st time I agreed with Google that downloads and preventing ads violated the TOS. Second time I see Google being unreasonable.

            As even Mark Zuckerburg (Facebook) mentioned, making their apps HTML5 was a mistake that they reverted to native apps. If Google can't make their apps HTML5 capable how can they require that Microsoft does it? Probably so they don't have to worry about it ever existing.
          • a world without MS is a better World

            So, your comments have a no relevance.

            The fact is MS was using Google's IP without Google's consent. MS has no leg to stand I'm court.

            MS is back to its scroogled behavior. They are lucky it hasn't reached courts yet, though when it does, they will lose.

            Your opinion as much as mine are irrelevant.
          • @Uralbas

            "The fact is MS was using Google's IP without Google's consent."

            How you deduced that? What IP is breached here?

            Last time I checked, only the manufacturers who use Android were paying MS for IP. Not the other way round.

            But I tend to agree on one thing. Both our opinions are irrelevant.
          • Oh Lord!

            You're a retarded twat, and I doubt you could find your b*tthole with a lubricated funnel.
          • Haters are haters...

            Just another MS hater. Being ignored from now on.
          • Most of the IT world agrees with this

            Wonder why you don't? Does MS have any relationship with you? Or do you have an economic relationship with MS?

            For the record, I don't have any relationship with Google other than using their free apps and services. And Google Voice.
          • Most IT knows MS killed competition

            And charges unreasonable MS tax, so we don't hate them, just dislike them for their scroogled actions that are facts.
          • That is a load of Bull Crap Uralbas, and you do realize that

            if you have any amount of IT knowledge.
            John Zern
          • At least they didn't do it the way Google did.

            What Google has done here is just so simple and stupid.
            Jae K Oh
          • @Uralbas

            And still most IT paid MS tax and still paying MS tax.
          • OOXML I guess we know you love M$

            OOXML is another example of how Microsoft money & power screwed over XML.

            If Microsoft can't find ways to lock in their user base they don't compete very well.

            End Of Story
            Over and Out
          • Another ignorant swine!

            Thanks for confirming that you don't really mind anti-competitive behavior, as long as it's your company of choice doing it. Funny you whine about Microsoft's anti-competitive behavior from over 20 years ago, while supporting Google's today.

            It simply shows what a two-faced hypocrite you are.
          • Watching Google panic is even more fun

            the corner that Google is back into can't be a comfortable one for them - imagine having MS create a better app then the owners of YouTube themselves are capable.

            Oh, how far the "mighty Google" has fallen.

            Agreed - God is good. :)
            William Farrel
          • You're an..

            idiot. and it shows. Good for you!
            Bobby Wright
          • nice rosy dream Willy!

            Google in panic mode.... Any bit of a real fact in support of what you wrote?