YouTube revamps mobile Web site

Watching YouTube videos on mobile devices isn't great at the moment, but Google's YouTube hopes a redesign will make the site faster, easier to navigate.

SAN BRUNO, Calif.--YouTube has redesigned its mobile site, hoping to get more and more smartphone users watching its videos through the browser, rather than through native applications.

YouTube's new mobile site should go live Wednesday afternoon.
YouTube's new mobile site should go live Wednesday afternoon. YouTube

The company will unveil the new design at m.youtube.com this afternoon, said Andrey Doronichev, product manager for YouTube Mobile, during a briefing Wednesday morning here at YouTube's headquarters. The main idea is to replicate the desktop PC-based YouTube experience in the mobile browser, or to at least get as close as possible, he said.

At the moment, mobile YouTube visitors play around 100 million videos a day, Doronichev said; roughly equivalent to the same number of videos that were being played on the original YouTube site when it was acquired by Google in 2006. But the mobile site itself is hard to navigate, and the primary source of mobile YouTube viewing--the native iPhone application--has lagged behind the development pace of what's now possible in the browser, he said.

The new site, as might be expected from a Google effort, is an HTML5-compatible site that provides much faster navigation and better video quality than the old mobile site, Doronichev demonstrated Wednesday. It was also designed to be more touch-screen friendly than the older site, with better navigation options.

The motivation behind the redesign is clear: Google and YouTube want more mobile users watching video through the browser, rather than native applications. That allows Google to control the advertising experience those viewers see rather than the handset maker, and fits in nicely with Google's the-browser-is-the-operating-system philosophy for the future.

Mobile users should be able to check out the new site Wednesday afternoon, but a few bugs will prevent iPhone 4 users from being able to see the new site right away, Doronichev said. Those should be fixed soon, he said.

 

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