Google tells iPhone users to turn the channel on native YouTube app

The next front in the increasingly hot war between Apple and Google apparently will be televised.

Google yesterday unveiled a new and improved mobile version of YouTube that blows the existing, pre-installed YouTube iPhone app out of the water. The new app, which can be downloaded from any HTML5 compliant browser, is faster, clearer and more up-to-date than the prepackaged iPhone version, which relies on infrequent updates to keep up with new YouTube features.

Beyond the significant user-experience enhancements is Google’s shot across the bow of Apple’s app-driven infrastructure. While Google does offer nearly 75,000 apps that can be downloaded from its Android Market, the company’s success in the mobile arena is not predicated on apps alone. If you recall, the company does OK selling advertising within browser-based environments.

By enticing iPhone owners to access YouTube from rather than tapping into an Apple-configured, inferior version of the service already on their home screens, Google undermines Apple’s primary value proposition in the mobile space.

Having said that, the tens of millions of iPhone owners who regularly download apps are not going to shy away from the App Store and the nearly 250,000 applications it provides anytime soon. The app-based infrastructure more likely will expand into desktop computing before Google or anyone else encroaches on Apple’s dominance in the mobile arena.  Further, most iPhone users will unknowingly accept the inferior native application that is spoon-fed and available to them on day one.

But we are still only in the early stages of this battle. By showcasing the possibilities of web-based applications on mobile devices through a blue chip property like YouTube, Google is tipping its hat in terms of where the company hopes to take the battle in the months and years ahead.

Stay tuned.

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