YouTube seems to have gotten tired of waiting for Apple to update their application on the iPhone and iPad and taken matters into their own hands. They just launched a redesign of the YouTube mobile site with a promotional video highlighting a number of new features that you would normally find on the non-mobile version of the site. The interesting thing is that they did it by taking a page from Apple’s product launch playbook and snubbed them while doing it.
Steve Jobs has always loved the technique of ‘let’s put someone down without naming names or coming right out and say what we are doing’. He lets you fill in the blanks but he does it in a way that we all know exactly who he is talking about. Google follows this technique to near perfection with the launch of their new mobile site and they started right out of the gate with the video description that echos my first thought and reads “As we make improvements to YouTube.com, you’ll see them quickly follow on the mobile website, unlike native apps which are not updated as frequently.”. From there you see a few other interesting details when you watch the video.
The first detail is that the video starts by showing the new site on an iPhone and it does it by launching Safari instead of the pre-installed YouTube application that is clearly visible in the upper left hand corner. For me this was so reminiscent of the iPad launch when Steve Jobs pulled up the New York Times web page with that large blue Lego symbol showing it could run Flash. Every second of his presentations are choreographed to the smallest detail and that was done to make a point without him having to say the obvious. The video ends by showing you how easy it is to replace the YouTube application with a Home Screen bookmark that will let you easily launch the site just like the application – only better.
More than the implied slight to Apple I think this is an important development because it’s the first major brand and content provider I have seen take a stand against the mobile applications with their slow and restrictive approval systems. The message is clear that YouTube wants you to ditch their application all together and go to the mobile web instead. I wonder how long it ill be until Steve Jobs announces that the bloated and closed system that YouTube runs goes against the peace loving Apple universe and must be destroyed.