It was 2007, the year the first iPhone was released and three years before the first iPad, long before smartphones became an artificial part of our bodies and tablets, a common part of our entertainment regimens. Before even an ounce of demand existed for mobile video streaming, YouTube formed a team whose sole responsibility was to make sure YouTube videos worked on mobile devices. Six years later, the team’s hard work has paid off.
In a recent earnings call, Google announced that 40% of views of YouTube videos came from mobile devices this year. It seems mobile is on the rise now for YouTube, with mobile video views accounting for 25% of the site’s traffic last year and just 6% in 2011. That YouTube had the foresight to optimize its videos for mobile devices even before there was a demand for such a service is a testament to the power of long-term thinking. Celebrating his team’s success, former director of product management Hunter Walk tweeted about YouTube’s strategy and converting all YouTube videos to MOB formats for mobile compatibility:
Who is the YouTube of mobile & tablets? YOUTUBE! We made early bet & now accts for 40% of traffic. Great job @dobry2000 & team!
This growing mobile trend is encouraging Google to focus more on mobile ad revenue than ever before. This is why Google recently banned Microsoft’s mobile YouTube app, which blocked ads, and allowed Microsoft to replace it with a less than ideal app that directs users to the mobile YouTube site. When 40% of your traffic comes from mobile and your business model depends on ad revenue, you just can’t have mobile devices blocking ads, can you?
YouTube continues to grow its mobile strategy by optimizing its mobile apps for user ease. It recently announced that a new offline streaming feature will launch in November which will allow users to temporarily save videos to a queue for offline viewing on their mobile devices. YouTube also recently updated its Android app to allow for more multitasking. Android users can now minimize YouTube videos without disturbing playback.
What other examples of long-term thinking do you know of? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section!