The advent of mobile devices has changed our lives, behavior, and the way that we communicate.
YouTube, the second most visited website, with 30 million daily visitors, has seen an incredible increase in mobile usage with more than half of its views coming from mobile devices and mobile revenues doubling every year (source: Alexa, July 2017).
So how come, with 1 000 000 000 mobile views per day and an average mobile session lasting more than 40 minutes, we are still unable to listen to YouTube music in the background of our mobile device whilst doing something else?
How frustrating is it to be abruptly stopped from listening to content on YouTube only because you put your phone in your pocket or inadvertently touched the screen?
On Braineet, the platform that connects users to their favorite brands, YouTube has drawn a lot of attention from users demanding that their app plays their favorite music in the background, uninterrupted.
The frustration is so great that an entire section of the internet is dedicated to YouTube mobile memes and hundreds of hours of video content explain possible solutions and workarounds.
One of the available solutions is to upgrade to YouTube Red for 10$ which is the service proposed by Google that allows you to download content, watch ad free videos and, most importantly, it allows background play.
Unfortunately, this option is only available in a few countries for now (the United States, Australia, Mexico, New Zealand and South Korea) and users outside of those countries have to get more creative.
Another option is to use the mobile desktop version on one of the main browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Safari), it doesn’t offer an optimized experience like the mobile application, but it still offers the option to multitask.
For others, programs and apps like Firetube and Audiopocket allow you to listen to YouTube in the background. Unfortunately, these programs are buggy, there are incompatibilities with certain browsers, and are dependent of YouTube’s everchanging API.
Ironically, you can find Youtube tutorials dating back to 2009 and 2010 that show you how to fix the problem.
Sure, these solutions are accessible, but by not listening to its users and to the recommendations made, YouTube is making its users suffer, damaging aspects of its brand image, and opening itself up to the possibility that a rival might offer a better mobile application.
YouTube is slowly losing users to Spotify, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, and dozens of other rivals, who, admittedly only offer audio, but allow the user to multitask and listen to music in the background.
YouTube Red might be the solution that users are waiting for, but by the time it is available worldwide, many users will have found alternative solutions and become accustomed to using a rival option.
Google’s capacity to innovate certainly can’t be doubted, but its ability to listen to its users can be. Youtube is an app that is reliant on user-generated content and focused solely on user experience, but has been slow in adapting to their needs. Can YouTube afford to continue to ignore its users? Only time will tell.