Microsoft vs Google vs YouTube: Who stands to lose most?

Microsoft’s not being exactly quiet about Google’s ban on its Windows Phone 8 YouTube app, publishing an angry rebuttal of Google. It’s essentially corporate brinkmanship, but who’s actually the loser in this case?

Is it Google?

There’s a small case here that Google’s somewhat shooting itself in the foot by not allowing a YouTube app for Windows Phone 8, if only because YouTube — like many of Google’s properties — works on a popularity model. Microsoft appears to have worked within Google’s constraints (at least, according to the way Microsoft tells it), so there’s some small revenue and exposure being lost here. But the key word is small; Windows Phone 8 is still an incredibly small player on the global stage at this point in time, and all the analyst predictions that it’d take large market share have so far failed to pan out.

Is it YouTube?

Probably not. Microsoft had originally developed a Windows Phone 8 app that didn’t serve YouTube advertising, and that’s clearly a loss for YouTube’s ad-based platform, but the new app was apparently ad-friendly, albeit not written in the HTML5 code that Google specified for Microsoft to use. Again, though, it’s that matter of scale and desirability. YouTube has what Microsoft wants, but Microsoft can’t exactly reciprocate in terms of users.

Is it Microsoft?

Microsoft’s clearly making the most noise about the issue, and that’s clearly because it wants YouTube accessibility for Windows Phone 8 users. It wants that, because Redmond’s well aware that mobile access is a massive part of the modern IT landscape, and it’s in the unusual position of being the third-place runner in that market. It could well be fourth if Blackberry wasn’t something of a basket case.
That’s unusual for Microsoft in many markets; when the original Xbox launched, for example, it was seen as a vanity ploy by Microsoft — I’ll admit, I had my doubts myself — but it’s one that’s seen it take a significant chunk of the gaming market. Microsoft’s now had many years to chip away at smartphones… but it hasn’t really made it there yet. YouTube’s an important drawcard right now for bringing consumers into the fold, if only because if you showed Joe Public an Android phone and a Windows phone, leaving other features aside, and Joe realises he can’t watch Cat videos easily on the Windows Phone device, it looks bad.

Is it the folks who bought Windows Phone 8 devices?

Yep. This one is the clearest in what is otherwise a somewhat murky situtation.
No, I don’t buy that Microsoft is the clear white knight in this situation. In many ways, given its own history, the fact that it’s referencing anti-trust movements against Google is almost humorous. Google, equally, owns YouTube, and in some ways I reckon it can do with its digital toys what it likes.
When those digital toys are thrown out of the pram because of a spat that hits between two tech behemoths, the only real losers are those who’d like to use the service.

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