News broke yesterday that the native YouTube app for iOS 6 will be going the way of the do-do. The statement from Apple was posted originally on The Verge: “Our license to include the YouTube app in iOS has ended, customers can use YouTube in the Safari browser and Google is working on a new YouTube app to be on the App Store.”
For iOS 5 device users who love the YouTube app (which seem to be few and far between), it appears that the loss of the native support will only be for iOS 6 devices, and that older devices will be grandfathered in: “Engadget has also heard from Apple and learned that while iOS 6 devices will lose the stock YouTube app, iOS 5 devices will not. It seems that either Google’s licensing agreement permits it to stay on the older OS, Apple didn’t want to go to the trouble to push out a point update that takes away a feature, or some combination of both.”
To clarify, Google and YouTube won’t be going completely away from iOS — Google has explicitly stated that it will develop an app for their streaming video service, giving iOS users the option of adding the feature back into their mobile computing experience.
The general perception of the native YouTube support on iOS is that it stinks — there isn’t a great deal of heartache on the part of iPhone and iPad users over the loss of the YouTube app. But perhaps the reason why this is a big story worth thinking about is that the dropping of YouTube from iOS 6 and beyond is yet another example of how Apple appears to be scrubbing YouTube services out of their products.
The dropping of YouTube begs the question: will we see an Apple version of YouTube — perhaps through iTunes — sometime in the near future, in a bid to compete with Google’s services? We’ve already seen the replacement of the poorly-supported Google Maps with what promises to be an impressive Apple Maps interface. Now, with the eventual dropping of YouTube, Apple appears to feel as though they can offer their users some kind of replacement down the line.
I have also written more than once about what I believe to be Apple’s semi-clandestine attempt to someday compete against Google search with Siri. Evidence such as its heavy reliance on search engine Wolfram Alpha and its vast repository of data centers suggests that Apple is already in the search business, and offering Siri users a different kind of search engine that leverages stored data, as opposed to Google Search’s indexing of web pages across the internet.
I now wonder if it is possible to imagine that 2013 iOS devices could see the dropping of Google Search as well? The further development of Siri on iOS 6 will perhaps give us a better sense of how close something like that could be.
Post Script: Hard Times For Google
You may not know it, but Google is having a bit of a rough patch right now with its revenues. The losses are coming as a direct result of the degradation of its AdWords business (the ads that appear on this blog as well as in Google Search, YouTube, Maps, and other Google services). This, from Slashdot, really lays out Google’s recent decline:
“Rebecca Greenfield writes that during their recent earnings call, Google reported a 16 percent decline in Cost-per-Click (CPC), meaning the value of each advertisement clicked has gone down. This follows a 12 percent drop last quarter and 8 percent the quarter before that showing an unfortunate reality of online advertising.”
I would not be shocked if Wall Street has a big October surprise in the fall over Google’s earnings.
The cause of Google’s drop in ad revenues has a lot to do with search engine optimization, or SEO as it is commonly known, which is being used by small online businesses in place of Google “pay-per-click” (PPC) ads. Whatever the case, Apple might see this opportunity to jump into the ad game for itself in the upcoming years — since there is no other ad system that currently competes with AdWords — as well as an opportunity to really stick it to Google. Imagine for a moment how fewer ad impressions Google’s AdWords will receive once Maps, YouTube, and maybe even Search is gone from iOS devices.
The effect could be devastating for Google’s bottom line.
By Michael Nace