Google is being called out by Microsoft for being "evil" and pursuing anti-competitive practices
Last May Google blocked a Microsoft YouTube app from running on its mobile platform Windows Phone causing Microsoft to rewrite it to Google’s specifications. This week the app was blocked once again and Microsoft’s David Howard explains why in a letter titled The limits of Google’s openness.
Howard explains that his company’s goal is to satisfy customers:
We know that this has been frustrating, to say the least, for our customers. We have always had one goal: to provide our users a YouTube experience on Windows Phone that’s on par with the YouTube experience available to Android and iPhone users.
The letter discusses antitrust investigations into Google and the fact that Google claims to be open but in fact seems to be doing everything it can to prevent a superior YouTube experience from running on the Microsoft OS as it competes with Android.
There was one sticking point in the collaboration. Google asked us to transition our app to a new coding language – HTML5. This was an odd request since neither YouTube’s iPhone app nor its Android app are built on HTML5. Nevertheless, we dedicated significant engineering resources to examine the possibility. At the end of the day, experts from both companies recognized that building a YouTube app based on HTML5 would be technically difficult and time consuming, which is why we assume YouTube has not yet made the conversion for its iPhone and Android apps.
For this reason, we made a decision this week to publish our non-HTML5 app while committing to work with Google long-term on an app based on HTML5. We believe this approach delivers our customers a short term experience on par with the other platforms while putting us in the same position as Android and iOS in enabling an eventual transition to new technology. Google, however, has decided to block our mutual customers from accessing our new app.
It seems to us that Google’s reasons for blocking our app are manufactured so that we can’t give our users the same experience Android and iPhone users are getting. The roadblocks Google has set up are impossible to overcome, and they know it.
Google claims that one problem with our new app is that it doesn’t always serve ads based on conditions imposed by content creators. Our app serves Google’s advertisements using all the metadata available to us. We’ve asked Google to provide whatever information iPhone and Android get so that we can mirror the way ads are served on these platforms more precisely. So far at least, Google has refused to give this information to us. We are quite confident that we can solve this issue if Google cooperates, but fixing Google’s concern here is entirely within Google’s control. If Google stops blocking our app, we are happy to work with them on this, entirely at Microsoft’s expense.
The details as they are laid out don’t shine an especially nice light on Google. I reached out to the search leader for a comment on the letter but they did not respond.
Twitter for its part had over 2,700 comments before noon EST and many of them seemed to support Microsoft over Google. For example:
Howard concludes as follows:
We think it’s clear that Google just doesn’t want Windows Phone users to have the same experience as Android and Apple users, and that their objections are nothing other than excuses. Nonetheless, we are committed to giving our users the experience they deserve, and are happy to work with Google to solve any legitimate concerns they may have. In the meantime, we once again request that Google stop blocking our YouTube app.
Now we’ll see if Google has a response which will reduce the negative sentiment growing on social networks.