Microsoft accuses Google of blocking a quality YouTube app for Windows Phone

3 Jan 2013

One of Microsoft’s senior legal guns has alleged that Google is preventing the software giant from creating a fully-featured YouTube app for Windows Phone devices.

Microsoft deputy general counsel David Heiner said that despite Google being in the spotlight over its business practices on two continents via two investigations by the European Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, the search giant is still abusing its dominant position.

He cited a situation whereby Google is impeding competition in the smartphone market by blocking Microsoft’s new Windows Phone operating system from operating properly with YouTube, effectively the second largest search engine on the planet after Google.

Heiner said Google has done so by preventing Microsoft from accessing YouTube metadata in the same way that Android and iPhone devices do.

Instead of allowing Microsoft to create a high quality YouTube app for devices running Windows Phone, users of these devices can only access a browser version.

Microsoft has a high quality YouTube app ready to go

In an official Microsoft blog, Heiner wrote: “Google has enabled its own Android phones to access YouTube so that users can search for video categories, find favourites, see ratings, and so forth in the rich user interfaces offered by those phones. It’s done the same thing for the iPhones offered by Apple, which doesn’t offer a competing search service. 

“Unfortunately, Google has refused to allow Microsoft’s new Windows Phones to access this YouTube metadata in the same way that Android phones and iPhones do. As a result, Microsoft’s YouTube ‘app’ on Windows Phones is basically just a browser displaying YouTube’s mobile website, without the rich functionality offered on competing phones.

“Microsoft is ready to release a high quality YouTube app for Windows Phone. We just need permission to access YouTube in the way that other phones already do, permission Google has refused to provide.”

Heiner said he believes this is a critical differentiator in the smartphone market, citing news reports that reveal YouTube apps to be the most downloaded mobile apps in 2012 on competing platforms.

He said Microsoft staff discovered that despite talking consistently with YouTube staff over the past two years, orders to prevent the creation of a high quality YouTube app on Windows Phone devices came from senior management at Google.

He said it was a case of the pot calling the kettle black when you consider Google’s lament that Facebook won’t let it index its pages in Google searches.

Perhaps Google has the same suspicions we have, that Windows Phone could be the dark horse operating system of 2013. Some 4m Windows Phone 8 devices have been activated since the new OS’ launch in October. Just saying.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years