As the FTC continues to mull a lawsuit against Google for anticompetitive practices — with a decision expected as soon as this week — Microsoft today accused the company of refusing to provide it with full access to YouTube such that it cannot support a fully functional app on its mobile operating system.
Microsoft says that beginning in 2010, it has spoken to the FTC and the European Commission, which has also pursued antitrust issues with Google, about Google’s refusal to grant it access to YouTube metadata that would allow users accessing the service through an app to search for videos and see ratings, for example.
“Google has enabled its own Android phones to access YouTube so that users can search for video categories, find favorites, see ratings, and so forth in the rich user interfaces offered by those phones. It’s done the same thing for the iPhones offered by Apple, which doesn’t offer a competing search service. Unfortunately, Google has refused to allow Microsoft’s new Windows Phones to access this YouTube metadata in the same way that Android phones and iPhones do,” wrote Microsoft vice president and deputy general counsel Dave Heiner on a company blog.
Microsoft claims that its app is reduced to being a bookmark for the YouTube website.
Google doesn’t see that as a problem.
“Contrary to Microsoft’s claims, it’s easy for consumers to view YouTube videos on Windows phones. Windows phone users can access all the features of YouTube through our HTML5-based mobile website, including viewing high-quality video streams, finding favorite videos, seeing video ratings, and searching for video categories,” a spokeswoman said.
YouTube, which is among the most popular apps on both Android and iOS mobile operating systems, appears to be a pawn in Google’s battle to repel Bing as a search competitor. Google currently controls 67 percent of the search market in the United States, but Bing continues to inch up. Search advertising is Google’s most lucrative business.
“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,” Microsoft’s Heiner wrote.
A separate report in the Wall Street Journal today made the case that Google is forcing users onto its social platform, Google+, in order to compete with Facebook.
Updated at 8 p.m. EST to reflect Google response.