San Francisco -- In a latest sign of the escalating rivalry between the two tech titans, once were closely aligned but now are vying for supremacy in the fast-growing mobile computing market. Apple released iOS 6 beta 4 to developers, and one of the most notable changes is that will not include a pre-loaded app for Google Inc.'s popular video website, YouTube, the company said on Monday.
Apple dropped the default YouTube app from the latest beta version of iOS 6, where it has resided since the iPhone made its debut in 2007, sparking rumblings of further anti-Google action following its expulsion of Google Maps earlier this year. The Cupertino company later confirmed to The Verge that its license with Google to incorporate the YouTube app on the home screen has expired and Google is now working on a standalone app for the Apple App Store.
“Apple and Google are the mobile operating systems for the future and this is where the battleground is going to lie,” said Needham & Co analyst Kerry Rice. “If it is going to be a two-horse race, you certainly do not want to give the other horse any kind of lead,” he added.
In a statement, YouTube mentioned “we are discussing with Apple to ensure we have the best possible YouTube experience for iOS users.” It declined to comment on whether the new YouTube app would be in the App Store in time for iOS 6.
An Apple spokeswoman declined to disclose whether the company's YouTube license contains any financial terms, or on whether Apple planned to replace YouTube with another pre-installed online video app from another company.
While YouTube is vanished from the iPhone and the iPad, it was still working for Apple TV, 9to5Mac reported earlier today. The move seems to be Apple's latest attempt to distance itself from Google services. The company earlier this year ditched Google Maps as a preset on its phone in favor of its own 3D Maps.
According analysts, Google was unlikely to suffer much of a financial hit from the move, though it could complicate Google's plans to expand online services to the growing ranks of mobile users.
“It is a risk to Google's overall mobile approach and strategy, in that their services are not going to be as easy to find as they used to be,” said ThinkEquity analyst Ronald Josey. “They need to be everywhere that users are.”
More concerning, said Josey, is what the move could mean for Google's deal with Apple to be the default search engine on the iPhone. “The writing's on the wall that when search is up for renewal, there is a significant chance that Google may not be the default,” said Josey.
As a matter of fact, YouTube was one of the original iPhone's main attributes, pushing Google to re-encode the entirety of the popular video hosting service's library so that it could work without Adobe's Flash. YouTube is one of the most popular destinations on the Internet, with more than 800 million unique monthly visitors who stream 4 billion videos a day.