Where do you tend to watch your YouTube cat videos? If you’re like many people, you’re watching them around the house and in public while glued to your smartphone or tablet screen.
In an earnings call yesterday, Google CEO Larry Page confirmed just that, announcing that 40 percent of YouTube traffic now comes from mobile screens, up from 25 percent last year and 6 percent in 2011.
The substantial rise comes from the simple and long-predicted fact that more and more people across the world own smartphones and that those who do are also using them more. YouTube has been prepared for mobile domination since 2007, when they formed a dedicated mobile team and worked to get their YouTube app pre-installed on Apple iPhones. However, when Apple announced that the YouTube app would no longer be included on their newest iOS operating system late last year, there were rumors that YouTube had lost out. It turned out, of course, that YouTube merely wanted to take control of its own app development, so that they could focus their app on one thing: ad money.
And it worked. Last June, YouTube announced that it had tripled its advertising sales from mobile viewing over the first six months of 2013. Developing their own app for Apples iOS devices allowed YouTube to run ads on their app, which netted advertising sales to the tune of $350 million in revenue for YouTube during that time. Lucas Watson, vice president of sales at YouTube, said then, “The commercial business has exploded. It’s a huge part of our business, and we know where it’s headed.”
Since then, YouTube has worked hard to improve their app – they already had a dedicated mobile team in place in 2007, relatively early in the mobile game, just for such occasions. So far over the past year, YouTube has added multi-tasking functionality with a picture-in-picture feature to their Android app, InVideo Programming for its content creators, and live streaming and TV play. In the latest iOS 7, the YouTube app includes features like the ability to watch a video while searching for other videos and choice of video quality while on Wi-Fi.
All of this is to say that YouTube on mobile is big, very big — all the more reason YouTube had better get over its feud with Microsoft quickly.