Google didn’t even wait for the ink to dry on this week’s FTC decision for it to start messing with its nemesis, Microsoft. Windows Phone 8 users, all 8 of them, reported that they weren’t able to access Google Maps via the built-in IE browser this week. Initially Google said it was because Maps only worked in Webkit browsers like Safari and Chrome. But if you’ve ever used Firefox or IE on the desktop, you know that’s not true. Microsoft wasted no time in debunking that assertion to Gizmodo.
A Google Spokesperson said:
The mobile web version of Google Maps is optimized for WebKit browsers such as Chrome and Safari. However, since Internet Explorer is not a WebKit browser, Windows Phone devices are not able to access Google Maps for the mobile web.
Update 2: A Microsoft spokesperson has responded to Google saying that:
“Internet Explorer in Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 use the same rendering engine.”
Apple may view Google as an adversary but make no mistake: The company logo that adorns the dart boards in the executive offices at Google is Microsoft. Apple doesn’t make a search engine nor does it do web ads and enterprise software and it most certainly doesn’t spend millions of dollars on a shadow campaign trying to convince the FTC to clip Google’s wings.
So how does Google smooth over the issue? How about a backhanded diss to Microsoft’s browser?
Google today told TheNextWeb:
We periodically test Google Maps compatibility with mobile browsers to make sure we deliver the best experience for those users.
In our last test, IE mobile still did not offer a good maps experience with no ability to pan or zoom and perform basic map functionality. As a result, we chose to continue to redirect IE mobile users to Google.com where they could at least make local searches. The Firefox mobile browser did offer a somewhat better user experience and that’s why there is no redirect for those users.
Recent improvements to IE mobile and Google Maps now deliver a better experience and we are currently working to remove the redirect. We will continue to test Google Maps compatibility with other mobile browsers to ensure the best possible experience for users.
Google has already said they have no plans to build any native apps for Windows Phone 8 which includes a native YouTube client that Microsoft has been clamoring for. Google also recently pulled its Active Sync functionality (though that might have been to avoid heavy licensing fees) for iOS and Windows Phone 8 devices meaning those devices would need to use a different method to get push email. And YouTube native client for Windows Phone 8? Not happening.
What is Google trying to do here?
I think Mountain View publicly wants to sow seeds of doubt that if you buy a Windows Phone 8 device (or even a Windows 8 tablet) that you may not get the best Google has to offer. YouTube is crippled. Gmail is essentially useless and now Google Maps is in question. That might be a dealbreaker for many a phone buyer.