The cold war between Apple and Google looks to heat up, following Apple's announcement that it will replace Google Maps on its list of core iOS apps with its own mapping app, and that YouTube will now be getting the axe as well.
The move is being seen as another sign that collaboration between the two companies is a thing of the past. The main reason, of course, is that the Google's Android and Apple's are the two dominant mobile platforms. This change will not only affect the next iPhone, but also the current crop of iOS devices; because it will be part of the rollout of iOS 6, expected this fall.
Apple claims that its license to include YouTube as a core app in iOS has expired, and that Google is working on a new version that will be available in the App Store. Will Apple replace it with something else? They're not saying.
YouTube is a force unto itself, with 800 million unique visitors every month, streaming four billion videos each day. But YouTube's content wasn't all available through the YouTube app on the iPhone. From the very beginning, when Apple first brought the iPhone to market, the app was designed in Cupertino using YouTube's standards. This is why there's a discrepancy between what videos may be available between the app and the actual site.
Despite all that, the site will still be accessible on Safari, Chrome and other mobile browsers. Google will likely create a new-look app for iOS, especially since they can now design it as they see fit. Apple still has to ultimately approve it, but that's really just a formality.
This change signals a complete fraying of relations between the two companies. It also shows that Apple will probably no longer have third-party core apps for iOS. There are rumours that another video site could replace YouTube's app, but that seems a bit far-fetched, given that no one else can match YouTube's scope and scale.
A less-widely-reported side of this story is that HTML5 will be the new standard on mobile devices, which is significant because it transcends all the mobile platforms. The challenge at that point is to make mobile video browsing more seamless and integrated than it is now. But first, HTML5 has to catch on, and that will take some time.
There has been commentary on the blogosphere criticizing Apple for the move, suggesting that it is taking its "walled garden" approach too far. This is overstating the case, particularly because Google Maps, and ostensibly, a YouTube app will still be available to download in the App Store. The level of choice consumers have on iOS is actually more broader than some might think.
From now on, the dedicated YouTube app won't be a staple of the iOS home screen anymore. But that doesn't mean Google's presence on Apple's iOS is going to disappear, either.