By Carolyn Heneghan
YouTube, Google’s online and mobile video cash cow, announced Tuesday the release of their new iOS app, the day before Apple’s planned iPhone 5 and iOS 6 press conference. The app release came a month after Apple announced that it would no longer include YouTube among the built-in applications for any future iOS mobile and tablet devices.
Apple and Google held a five-year licensing agreement which the two companies did not renew in light of Apple’s upcoming iOS 6 release. That agreement stated that Apple would include YouTube’s video service among the pre-installed apps on Apple’s mobile operating system—or iOS—for the company’s mobile phones and tablets. YouTube has been included on iPhones since the device was originally released in 2007.
This agreement also established Apple as the builder and controller of the app’s design—as such, YouTube had little control over what it could change in the app. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, Apple would not allow YouTube to show any advertisements with its videos—a preclusion which predominantly affected music videos from major labels and publishers.
As their agreement ran out this year, Apple and Google could not resolve differences in the design or more lucrative possibilities of the app. So they parted ways, and Apple announced that they would use their own video program for the upcoming iOS 6. In response, YouTube built its own standalone app.
With this new app, YouTube and Google no longer have the oversight of Apple and its anti-ad persistence in the face of increasing money-making opportunities. Google and YouTube claim that mobile viewers account for approximately 25% of the video giant’s 1 billion daily views—a significant portion of their audience now monetized.
A huge portion of those daily views are music videos, many of which could not be viewed from Apple’s YouTube app because they are supported by ads. Now that YouTube’s standalone app allows ads with videos on iOS, Google is better positioned to profit from their mobile growth and has released to its hungry viewers tens of thousands of previously unavailable music videos.
So the new app is something of a double-edged sword: you now have to put up with more ads before videos, but more videos—especially major labels and publishers’ music videos—are now available on your iOS mobile devices. Also beneficial are the features specific to YouTube’s standalone release which make mobile search, discovery, and sharing of music videos easier.
For example, this new app allows you to find new music videos and channels with auto-completion, tailored suggestions, and voice search. You can also now continue to watch your selected video while browsing through comments and related videos.
YouTube may lose mobile watchers by no longer being incorporated into iOS devices. But Google is hoping that the addition of thousands of videos and the handy features already in play on their Android app will be enough to lure customers over to the new app.
Currently the new iOS YouTube app is available for free download on iTunes. It is primarily suited for the iPhone and iPod though also available for the iPad. An optimized iPad version is in the works and should be released in the coming months.