Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Much ado about YouTube, AppleGoo and iOS 6.0

August 7, 2012: 7:25 AM ET

The disappearance of an iconic iPhone app sends the blogosphere into paroxysms

Gone from iOS 6.0

FORTUNE -- "Apple killing YouTube on iPhone just happens to be the last straw," Jeff Jarvis tweeted Monday when he learned that the next generation of iPhones won't have a YouTube app on their opening screen. "Went into the AT&T store today to begin switch to my Android phone."

That Jarvis, whose "What Would Google Do?" was a 2009 bestseller, was still using an iPhone three years later says a lot about how Apple's (AAPL) iOS stacks up against Google's (GOOG) Android.

That he's switching now says even more about the hysteria with which bloggers and tweeters greeted the news that YouTube had fallen out of the latest release of iOS.

It was still the lead story Tuesday morning on Techmeme, which provided links to more than four dozen news items on the subject. "Apple and Google both win by killing the native iOS YouTube app, but we all lose," wrote The Verge's  Niley Patel. "It's all about money and machismo," opined TheNextWeb's Matthew Panzarino.

Well, not entirely. First of all, as Google made clear before the end of the day, there will continue a YouTube app on the iPhone -- one that Google will write and maintain.

Moreover, it's not at all certain who "killed" Apple's version of the app. According to Apple, its license to put YouTube in iOS had run its course, and apparently it was in both parties' interest to let it lapse.

It's true that between Google Maps and Google's YouTube, Apple seems to be cutting the ties with the firm that seemed so close when Google  chairman Eric Schmidt shared the stage with Steve Jobs at the iPhone's 2007 unveiling and cracked a joke about how close the two firms had grown ( "If we just sort of merge the companies we could call them AppleGoo.")

But it's also true, as Panzarino points out, that from Apple's point of view the app had served its purpose:

The native YouTube app was an effort to legitimize HTML5-compatible video. Apple used it as leverage, got the entire YouTube catalog converted over to iPhone-friendly video and everyone else followed suit. If you were an iPhone user in the early days, you'll remember that the entire catalog wasn't available at launch. Google, who had recently purchased YouTube, started crunching through all of the videos, converting them over to HTML containers and caught up some months afterwards. This was a huge factor in the sidelining of Flash video. Now, HTML5-compatible MP4 video is the standard so Apple doesn't need a native YouTube presence built into iOS any more.

Google, meanwhile, gets to design its own YouTube app, push out more frequent updates, and do something it's probably been itching to do for a long time: Sell the YouTube ads on iOS that it runs everywhere else. "Google stands to make a ton of money from ads," writes Panzarino.

More money, I would venture to guess, than it was getting from the deal it cut with Apple in simpler times, before the smartphone wars.

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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