Google has been working on YouTube Go for a while now. Before you ask, no it has no connection with Pokémon Go where you can use it to upload video footage of you playing Pokémon Go (although, that would be pretty cool). YouTube Go is actually a mobile YouTube app designed for India. The goal here is to allow users with less than ideal internet access to save videos to their smartphones so that they can watch it offline, thus also keeping an eye on their data use.
Recently, a beta version of YouTube Go was released in the Google Play Store in India. It appears that other emerging markets will also have access to the app within the coming weeks.
Ever since Reliance Jio, which is the Telecommunication section of Reliance Industries Ltd introduced cheap data plans (cheaper than their rivals, to be precise), Analysts have since forecasted that there would be a surge in users accessing video content on platforms such as YouTube.
India has even gained attention from Silicon Valley as the ideal environment to test products for emerging markets as they have a population of 1.3 billion, along with relatively poor internet connectivity. YouTube executives said they sought to build a product for Indian users from the ground up rather than releasing a slimmed-down version of their primary app.
According to Vice President of Engineering at YouTube, John Harding, users were also not satisfied with a mere stripped down version or YouTube. Rather, they wanted the whole thing. The YouTube team also pondered over showing a series of images from a video with accompanying video. This too was met with a similar reaction from the users. As the end result, users in India can browse videos trending in their region by previewing a video before watching to make sure that it is indeed the video they want to watch. This minimizes data usage and also keeps users happy.
It’s debatable whether a platform such as YouTube Go would be viable in India. Especially if cheap data plans become more popular and users simply decide to just stream content without going through the hassle of previewing videos. That being said though, according to Jay Akkad, a product lead at YouTube, India currently has approximately 180 million mobile users. The amount of time spent watching videos on mobile has also jumped 400% year over year. This definitely proves that YouTube has a strong movement in India.
Sri Lanka too could benefit from YouTube Go. Even though Colombo and suburbs have access to Internet, rural areas in and around Colombo still lack proper internet connectivity. This includes a number of schools as well. If YouTube Go was made available, it would simply be a matter of making the content available offline and then using it for educational purposes without having to keep streaming the video.
What do you think of YouTube Go? Is it useful? Is it not? Leave a comment below.