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Mobile phones to drive YouTube growth in India: John Harding

Q&A with Vice-President of Engineering, YouTube

Dev Chatterjee  |  Mumbai 

John Harding

YouTube, a Google product, launched its offline video product in India, Indonesia and Philippines simultaneously to take advantage of the growing cellular phone penetration in these countries and unstable data quality of the cell phone networks. With this product, a consumer can download a video from a hotspot with a Wi-Fi connectivity and watch it later when they are travelling. In an interview with Dev Chatterjee, John Harding, vice-president of engineering for YouTube, talks more about YouTube’s plans on India. Excerpts:

You are launching YouTube offline in India today alongwith with other emerging countries… what’s the market do you see for this product in India?

The infrastructure which is available today in India makes it very difficult for our consumers to experience our product well. The slow 2G connections, lack of access to broadband and high costs make it difficult for the videos to download properly. Even in 3G networks the experience is not so good.

Now with this product, you can download your videos from a hotspot with faster Wi-Fi and watch it later when you are on the go. The product experience is the same when you are accessing videos offline. You can shoot the video and upload later when you connect to a better network.

So no more buffering and you can watch Hi-Def videos saved in phones. We are launching this product simultaneously in three countries today: India, Indonesia and Philippines.

When it comes to most digital products, it is a challenge in India on how to monetise them. How successful you have in India in monetising YouTube?

We are working with all the carriers in India to offer more affordable pricing for YouTube. We worked with all our content creator partners to enable a feature like this. The ads will come on the offline videos like it appears currently in YouTube. The skip ad option will also be there. We have to make sure that our content creators also make money with the videos. Our content creators are incredibly happy with our model. The more a video is watched, it’s good for our content creators to earn revenues as its on per view basis.

Any interesting trend do you notice among the Indian users of YouTube which is different from the global ones, may be in terms of contents, preference?

The smart phones are growing at a phenomenal rate in India. More people are accessing the net on the phone rather than traditional devises. The content is accessed on the phones as more and more people get online with their phones.

That said, in India the biggest draw is Bollywood videos, cooking programs and of course sports events. Many South Indian regional programmes are also doing well.

You have recently launched YouTube music-subscription service called YouTube Music Key, globally. Any plans to bring it to India?

Yes, the product has been received very well in the United States and the product is picking up pace.

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First Published: Sat, December 13 2014. 22:43 IST