Google versus Apple is so over. It's all about Google versus Microsoft now.
Yes, I know that Google CEO Larry Page told I/O attendees that companies shouldn't be pitted against each together in the press, but it's sort of tough not to when those companies do it themselves in real life. His, for example, has issued a cease and desist letter to Redmond over its Windows Phone YouTube application. The issue is that the app not only allows for downloading videos, but it also strips away the ads that are supposed to show up for mobile users.
Not that we can blame Google for this move. It's a response to Microsoft's slap in the face. Ads are Google's bread and butter, and nothing draws the ire of the tech giant more than messing with them. The company asserts that Microsoft violated the YouTube API's terms and conditions by actively blocking the ads, and that this move could also affect third-party content creators in Google's AdSense program. As such, Mountain View has issued a cease and desist letter demanding that Microsoft "immediately withdraw this application from the Windows Phone Store and disable existing downloads of the application by Wednesday, May 22, 2013." That's one week from today.
This is just the latest in an almost comical series of events now. Who could forget Microsoft's Scroogled and #DroidRage campaigns? Or its Android app designed to entice users to switch to Windows Phone? Or Google's plans to axe Exchange ActiveSync support? Of course, the two companies can get along when need be — Google Talk has come to Outlook.com, after all — but when push comes to shove, there's not much love lost between these two. Even at Google I/O today, Page said "we struggle with people like Microsoft." And that was just one of a string of hits and jabs he let loose about other companies and the industry.
If/When Microsoft pulls the app, users will have to rely on third-party offerings or the mobile browser–based version of YouTube — at least until these two crazy kids figure out a way to get along.
EDITED: Original text quoted Page as saying Google had a great relationship with Microsoft. The line was removed, as his comment actually referred to Mozilla.
Could we be on the cusp of a truce between the companies?
Microsoft has responded to the letter, agreeing to allow Google's ads. A company spokesperson said, "We'd be more than happy to include advertising but need Google to provide us access to the necessary APIs." The company even cited Page's comments at I/O, putting out an olive branch of sorts: "In light of Larry Page's comments today calling for more interoperability and less negativity, we look forward to solving this matter together for our mutual customers."
Wow, maybe there's hope for peace yet.