One of the coolest features of Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone is its built-in access to YouTube. We think free, short clips are the perfect mobile video product, and many iPhone users agree: More than 31% of iPhone owners watch video on their phones, compared to less than 5% of overall U.S. mobile subscribers.
In January, Google (GOOG) unveiled an updated version of its mobile YouTube service, promising access to “tens of millions” of videos — the “largest repository of mobile video content available.” That may be true, but we were a little bummed out to find that YouTube’s iPhone app doesn’t include everything available on YouTube. Specifically, when one of our colleagues recently found a YouTube link in a Google search, the iPhone’s YouTube app told him that video wasn’t available.
So what is on the iPhone YouTube app? In an admittedly informal, unscientific test, we found many of the YouTube videos we were looking for — but not all of them. For example, Wednesday afternoon, only four of the top seven “most watched” YouTube videos were available on the iPhone. What worked?
- A video of a girl staring at the camera called “Best video EVER!” (No. 2 most-watched)
- An animation called “Battle of the Machines – Well Done!” (No. 3 most-watched)
- A video of Ellen Degeneres dancing (No. 4 most-watched)
- A video of two sweaty men “wrestling” (No. 7 most-watched)
What didn’t work?
- An almost 38-minute video of Barack Obama speaking (No. 1 most-watched) — but someone else’s 35-minute version was available
- An animation called “Happy Tree Friends – Toothy’s Easter Smoochie” (No. 5 most-watched)
- An incomprehensible video of a woman talking to the camera called “Your mistress” (No. 6 most-watched)
What also worked?
- A video of our flight over Chicago, which we uploaded more than a year ago
- The featured/sponsor video on YouTube’s homepage, a commercial for “Horrorfest” DVDs
- One of our favourite home shopping network bloopers, which we found via a Google search in the iPhone’s Safari browser
- A video we just uploaded a few minutes prior of USB ‘humping dog’ toys, which we picked up last December in Tokyo (embedded below for your amusement)
So what’s actually on there? A YouTube rep says the iPhone application has access to “virtually all of” the videos on the YouTube Web site. Videos are automatically added — a human isn’t involved — and the company aims to make it “simultaneous,” so videos on the YouTube site are available on iPhones and other mobile phones as fast as possible. We confirmed that.
But why don’t some videos make it? Hard to tell. A rep speculates that the uploaders could have opted out of letting YouTube distribute their videos through its syndication services, like their mobile editions. But we’re not sure.
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