The fracas between Apple and Google has claimed yet another casualty: When iOS 6 ships this fall, the mobile operating system will for the first time not include a built-in YouTube client.
“Our license to include the YouTube app in iOS has ended, customers can use YouTube in the Safari browser and Google is working on a new YouTube app to be on the App Store,” Apple spokesperson Trudy Muller told Macworld. The story was first reported by The Verge.
This news comes not long after the announcement at June’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote that the company would be shipping a new version of the Maps app in iOS 6, which would no longer rely on Google’s mapping data. Both the YouTube and Maps apps shipped with the very first version of the iPhone; though built by Apple, they remained the only official native apps for third-party services until 2008 saw the debut of the App Store.
While Google and Apple had a strong relationship for many years, with former Google CEO Eric Schmidt even serving on Apple’s board of directors, the rapport between the two companies has deteriorated in the past several years. One major factor behind that dissolution is Google’s increased emphasis on its rival Android smartphone platform, which Apple CEO Steve Jobs considered a copycat of the iPhone.
“I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product,” Jobs’s biographer Walter Isaacson quoted the late Apple CEO as saying. “I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”
Schmidt eventually stepped down from Apple’s board in 2009, but relations had already become strained between the two companies. Apple had already removed third-party Google Voice apps from the App Store, and delayed an official client from Google itself, which prompted questions from the FCC. Apple has also in recent years sued all three of Google’s major Android hardware partners—HTC, Motorola, and Samsung—over intellectual property violations, though it has to date not engaged Google directly. The two companies have also disagreed on licensing terms for some essential patents.
And yet the relationship between the two tech superpowers seemed to have been thawing in recent days, with Apple even approving a version of Google’s browser, Chrome, for iOS devices. Cupertino, for its part, seems to have adopted a strategy of straight-up competition with its Mountain View rival, rather than out-and-out hostility.
That culminated in the announcement over iOS 6’s Maps changes, and now in the removal of the YouTube app. According to Apple’s statement, Google will provide its own native YouTube app in the App Store in coming months; the search giant has already hinted that it will in some form continue to provide Google Maps on iOS as well.
In both the cases of YouTube and Google Maps, Apple’s decision to remove the built-in apps and allow Google to instead create third-party clients shows a shift to focus on capabilities, rather than specific popular services. Why ship a built-in YouTube client, but not include apps for other media-sharing services like Vimeo or Flickr? Besides, users are more than comfortable downloading apps these day, so they should have no trouble finding a third-party program if they need to.
The message from Apple is clear: The iPhone is, in and of itself, a comprehensive device. It does everything you need right out of the box—even letting you access YouTube or other video services, and providing maps. Simply put, Apple doesn’t need any other company’s help. Especially Google’s.
Staff writer Lex Friedman contributed to this story.