So, that nice little icon with a retro telly you can see on the home screen of your iPhone? Yeah, that’s not going to be there for long. Apple has stepped up its feud with Google by removing its native support for YouTube in the next version of its mobile operating system.
How much is this going to affect the life of the average iPhone user? Well, not very much. There will be an app that does exactly the same thing within five minutes.
Wait, that doesn’t make for a very interesting column, does it? What am I supposed to do now? Sit here drinking tea and reading Take A Break? (it’s not mine, I found it. I did.)
OK, let me ask that question again. How much is it going to affect the life of the average iPhone user? OH MY GOD, WE MAY AS WELL JUST GIVE UP AND DIE. You should probably just smash your handset into your tear-stained face until there is nothing left but broken glass and cartilage. Things will never, ever be the same again. I’m feeling better about this column already. And it’s not just YouTube that has vanished from the upcoming iPhone – Google Maps will be replaced by a new Apple version, ingeniously called Maps. Even Google’s position as the default search engine on Safari – which apparently costs Google somewhere in the region of $1bn a year in shared ad revenue – is being questioned. It’s like watching the breakdown of a marriage in slow motion. At the start, Apple happily showed Google off to its mates, going as far as inviting it on stage to the launch of the original iPhone. Apple’s friends, who are a weird bunch at the best of times, let alone when they are all riled up by the prospect of a new product, whooped and cheered, which probably made Google feel a bit awkward. Fast forward ten years and they can’t seem to agree on anything, from privacy to patents. But could Apple really ditch Google in favour of Microsoft’s Bing? That this is even a serious suggestion shows how much the technology landscape has shifted. Back in the days when Windows was still a rising star in the software world, Steve Jobs famously yelled at Bill Gates, in a crowded room: “You’re ripping us off. I trusted you, and now you’re stealing from us” (prompting this zinger from Gates: “Well, Steve, I think there’s more than one way of looking at it. I think it’s more like we both had this rich neighbour named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that you had already stolen it”).
I wouldn’t panic yet though: it probably won’t happen. Google search is too ingrained in the psyche of Apple users and people who love Apple tend to hate Microsoft. What the escalation in this battle of the tech heavyweights does show is that new chief executive Tim Cook is every bit as ruthless as his former boss.
Losing the YouTube icon isn’t a huge deal but it could be a sign of much bigger things to come.