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iPhone Fanatics Will Get YouTube Too

By Chris Maxcer MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Jun 20, 2007 11:39 AM PT

Weeks after announcing an agreement with YouTube to allow Apple TV owners to access the Web TV portal's content on their television screens, Apple on Wednesday promised future buyers of the yet-to-be-released iPhone that they, too, will have access to YouTube via a browsing application built into the phone.

iPhone Fanatics Will Get YouTube Too

Judging by the few glimpses of the iPhone Apple has afforded the public, the device's 3.5-inch display appears to be amazingly clear and crisp; however, most YouTube videos aren't known to be particularly high-quality in the first place. To make sure that YouTube videos translate to the iPhone's screen with workable quality, YouTube is now encoding its videos in the H.264 format. The iPhone will be the first mobile device to use the H.264-encoded videos.

"iPhone delivers the best YouTube mobile experience by far," said Apple CEO Steve Jobs. "Now users can enjoy YouTube wherever they are -- on their iPhone, on their Mac or on a widescreen TV in their living room with Apple TV."

Smart Play?

"It makes sense, not just for Apple ... but from YouTube's perspective, as they want to play more in that mobile space, they want to make sure YouTube is available to folks on mobile phones," Mike McGuire, a research vice president for Gartner, told MacNewsWorld.

"Given the amazing amount of hype around this device, and the WiFi capability, it's going to be interesting," he said.

WiFi or EDGE

While the H.264-encoded videos don't appear to be limited to Apple's iPhone, Apple says the H.264 format provides better video quality and longer battery life on mobile devices. Users will be able to view YouTube videos via AT&T's EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution) network or via WiFi hotspots. The downside to accessing Web video content through an EDGE network connection is that it may be slow and will certainly be expensive if a user doesn't have a favorable cellular data plan.

When the iPhone launches, YouTube will only have 10,000 of its more popular videos available to the iPhone in the H.264 format. By this fall, however, YouTube plans to have its entire catalog of videos encoded.

Will Users Watch?

"I've always wondered how much of the YouTube experience will be portable or transferable beyond the computer screen," McGuire said.

While it has been possible for other smartphone owners to download and view video content, it hasn't typically been easy. Apple's new built-in application, along with the popularity of YouTube, may give the industry enough data to measure an accurate level of user interest. Apple has a reputation for delivering highly usable interfaces, so if it's truly easy to get to YouTube content, the remaining barrier would be whether many users actually care about watching miniature videos on their phones.

"When you're watching video, it's not what you're doing when you're walking down the street or driving your car. But if you're more stationary for a bit of time in an urban or even suburban setting, what's usually around? Somewhere there's a Starbuck's or a WiFi hotspot. So, if you have 10 minutes before you meet your wife for coffee ... you can kill some time," McGuire noted. "And YouTube content has proven itself as being great for time killing."

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