Microsoft repeats claim that Google is blocking full YouTube on Windows Phone

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Dave Heiner, Microsoft's Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, has published a post on Microsoft legal and public policy blog explaining that the company is still seeking a resolution to certain search competition issues. One of the specific issues that is raised is the way that Microsoft's believes Google is blocking Microsoft from "offerings its customers proper access to YouTube" on the Windows Phone platform.

It's an issue that Microsoft first raised a in March 2011 when it noted it was unable to offer the same YouTube experience on Windows Phone as on Android or iOS due to Google's refusal to co-operate. Microsoft notes it has engaged with YouTube personnel over the intervening time period, but efforts have been blocked by "senior executives at Google [who] told them [YouTube] not to enable a first class YouTube experience on Windows Phone".

Here's the full extract from the relevant portion of post on the Windows Phone and YouTube issue:

Despite government scrutiny, Google continues to block Microsoft from offering its customers proper access to YouTube. This is an important issue because consumers value YouTube access on their phone: YouTube apps on the Android and Apple platforms were two of the most downloaded mobile applications in 2012, according to recent news reports. Yet Google still refuses to allow Windows Phone users to have the same access to YouTube that Android and Apple customers enjoy. Microsoft has continued to engage with YouTube personnel over the past two years to remedy this problem for consumers. As you might expect, it appears that YouTube itself would like all customers – on Windows Phone as on any other device – to have a great YouTube experience. But just last month we learned from YouTube that senior executives at Google told them not to enable a first-class YouTube experience on Windows Phones. 

What's interesting about this is that Microsoft is saying, in a public statement, that Google has made a deliberate decision not to offer the full YouTube experience on Windows Phone. It's a more combative statement than Microsoft has previously been made and its clear Microsoft feels that Google is breaching antitrust laws.

Microsoft may not engender a great deal of sympathy given its own track record with antitrust issues, but that really shouldn't have a bearing on this particular case. The contention is that Google is intentionally degrading the YouTube experience (interoperability) on Windows Phone and by doing this it is seeking to leverage its dominant position in one market (web video) to give it a better position in another market (smartphones). Whether this is legal or not is open to debate, but it's certainly true Google is facing regulatory scrutiny around similar issues in both Europe and the US.

In any case, this latest round of the YouTube on Windows Phone belligerency is a reflection of the recent trend we've seen for the "war of ecosystems" to move from being cold to hot. Another recent example of this is Google's decision to withdraw Exchange ActiveSync support from its free Gmail service (used for syncing email, contacts and calendar information).

As we noted in a recent post on MetroTube (also impacted by the lack of open streaming APIs for YouTube) the issues arise because the two firms are in direct competition, and ultimately it's the consumer that loses.

More broadly Google's lack of enthusiasm for supporting Microsoft's platform is likely, at least in part, to stem from the direct competition between the two firms. Nonetheless the reality is, whatever either side may say, that support in either direction will largely be driven by commercial considerations, and not by what is in the best interests of consumers.

Source / Credit: Microsoft on the Issues