Apps, Mobile & SMS

Apple Is Pulling YouTube From iOS & It’s Bad News For Music, Apps

Youpload-158x238Guest post by Eliot Van Buskirk of

When the very first iPhone shipped, literally changing the world as we knew it, it carried a little Trojan horse inside of it called YouTube. The app for Google’s video sharing site comes standard with every single iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, but all of that ends with the next version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 6, as noted by The Verge and just about every other tech blog.

It’s big news whenever tech titans Apple and Google butt heads, or at least appear to do so, but it’s also a big deal from a music perspective specifically. In the first five versions of Apple iOS, YouTube functioned as a free, unlimited, on-demand music service, sitting right there where any user could use it to call up almost any song, for free, in seconds. Not only that, but Apple’s devices defaulted to uploading mobile-recorded videos to YouTube — something that is also going away in iOS 6.

Introducing the New YouTube Mobile Website

“Our license to include the YouTube app in iOS has ended,” said Apple in a statement. “Customers can use YouTube in the Safari browser and Google is working on a new YouTube app to be on the App Store.”

Apple’s decision not to renew that license –whatever its reasons might be — carries at least three major implications for the music app scene:

1. Big Chance for Spotify, Rdio, MOG, Rhapsody

If you want to summon a song and play it on the iPhone in your pocket right now, you simply need to tap the YouTube app and search for the song, and you’ll hear it almost instantaneously. (You can even play the song via AirPlay on your nice speakers.) Starting in iOS 6, you won’t have that option anymore, so you’ll have to install something. Tell me, what will it be?

Sure, it could be the YouTube app Google is said to be working on, but at least you’ll have to think about it this time around. If you’ve been building up playlists in the free desktop version of Spotify or MOG, you could find yourself deciding to take the leap and subscribe, the way millions of other people already have done, rather than relying on YouTube’s piecemeal, song-by-song approach.

2. Shot in the Arm for HTML5

 As mentioned above, Google is hard at work on a YouTube app, which it will submit to Apple’s iTunes app store alongside all the others. However, as the New York Times (which recently linked to as a source) noted in June, Google’s new mobile website already “makes the iPhone YouTube app obsolete.” Sure, some folks will track down whatever iOS app YouTube releases in the coming weeks. Others will simply direct our browsers to YouTube, as Apple suggests we do, bookmark it, and add that bookmark to our iPhone home screens, where it will look exactly like an app.

If millions of users suddenly realize how easy it is to load HTML5 apps within their iPhone’s Safari browser — even adding those HTML5 apps to their home screens alongside their iOS apps — it could be a major turning point for HTML5. After all, it can do most of what iOS apps need to do.

If you think about it, platform-specific apps are like DRM-ed music, in the sense that they tie you to your device platform. If you’ve spent $50 on iOS apps, you’re probably not going to turn around and buy an Android. However, if if you purchased $50-worth of HTML5 apps (which is possible, if they sell accounts that require a log-in), suddenly, you’d be able to hop between iOS and Android and bring those apps with you.

That world is still far off, but at the very least, the lack of a native, bundled YouTube app on iOS will cause more people to realize that HTML5 apps such as YouTube’s can be a viable replacement for platform-specific apps — especially because the HTML5 version of YouTube can do more than the iOS version can (see video above).

3. Vimeo: The New Online Concert Destination?

When I shot this concert footage of my brother’s band, my iPhone encouraged me to upload that video to YouTube, as it still does today. In iOS 6, Apple’s default video destination of uploads will be Vimeo instead, as Mashable points out.

Have you been to a concert lately? There are a lot of iPhones there, many of them shooting audio and video footage. It won’t happen overnight, but gradually, Vimeo will replace YouTube as the place to see concert videos uploaded from iPhones.

(Front page image courtesy of Flickr/Claudio Montes)

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  1. I read this headline quickly and instantly thought Apple was taking away YouTube support from iOS, similar to Flash. After reading the article though, this just seems like Apple is throwing in the towel on YouTube. I’ve recently ditched Safari for Chrome on my iPhone (which I did within the first hour of getting my Macbook Pro), and it just seems like a bad idea for Apple to not even compete in something as popular as YouTube.
    I’ve always had problems with the (Apple) YouTube app, and it looks like Google’s YouTube app will be much better, but it really amazes me that Apple’s approach to this is to “just watch it in Safari.” Especially when there are now better mobile internet browsers.

  2. Eliot obviously hasn’t tried using YouTube mobile for music in years. The content ID settings for mobile devices have been such that almost NO music is available via YT mobile, unless it’s been altered in some dumb way.

  3. Yeah, the YouTube app has been pointless for about 3 years now. After getting frustrated by all YouTube links jumping me to the app only to be told many of the videos werent available (but was on the Youtube mobile app) I finally turned the app off in the restriction settings.

  4. I’m confused … why are any of these things ‘Bad News For Music’ as your headline says? Spotify is good. HTML5 is good. Vimeo is inconsequential.

  5. hi there,
    small addition to above info fyi. In short supply(NZ) i recently bought brand new iphone 4. Activation with latest iTunes means no YouTube App on menu.
    Discrimination anybody?
    Nice to read I can get it thru Safari tho.

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