A year ago, 25% of YouTube
’s traffic was from mobile sources; now, that number has climbed to 40%. To put that rise in even starker relief, mobile traffic accounted for just 6% of YouTube activity in 2011. It’s not hard to imagine why, as smartphone
proliferation has skyrocketed during that same time frame, but it’s worth noting that there was never a guarantee that YouTube would transition gracefully from desktop web browser dominance to mobile.
Even though YouTube is owned by Google
and therefore has the backing of a behemoth Internet company, it wouldn’t be the first beloved product to fade from favor had it failed to adapt to a changing tech world. There had to be a plan in place, and according to Hunter Walk, former director of YouTube product management at Google (from 2007-2011), Google had one, attacking the impending mobile problem early on.
In acknowledgment of YouTube’s newly-released mobile numbers, he wrote on Twitter
that Google formed a mobile team for YouTube way back in 2007, before there was a clear demand for mobile video and associated monetization. The team transcoded all of YouTube’s videos to a mobile-friendly format and snagged what turned out to be a sweet deal for an iPhone YouTube app.
Google’s foresight has clearly paid off, as YouTube remains a desktop video juggernaut and has become a mobile one, as well.