Saturday, November 25, 2023
YouTube enshittification and the Apple tax
I am watching a lot of YouTube, using the YouTube app on my iPad. The disadvantage of that is that the YouTube iOS app is a walled garden within a walled garden, with both Google and Apple having a lot more control about what I can do and can't do than if you watch YouTube on a browser. Now I used to have a Premium Lite membership to YouTube, in order to avoid ads. Adblockers are nearly impossible to set up when using the iOS app, and recently YouTube started an arms race against adblockers, where whatever adblocker you use might suddenly not work anymore or prevent you from watching videos at all. Unfortunately, in the ongoing enshittification of all web services, YouTube just cancelled my Premium Lite plan, not offering that option anymore. They even had the gall to send me "sorry to see you go" e-mail.
So I was looking how much a full YouTube Premium subscription would cost. And as I was looking on the iPad device, I was shocked by the number: €16.99 per month! But it turns out that €5 of that are in fact the "Apple tax", the additional fee you pay to Apple whenever you buy a subscription directly on an Apple device. The trick is to use a browser instead, where suddenly the same subscription is down to €11.99 (where I live; apparently it's $13.99 in the USA).
The clever thing to do would have been to change my habits, stop using the YouTube app, and start using whatever adblocker is working this week to watch YouTube via a browser. But that is a lot more hassle than I want, and I am pretty sure that YouTube is going to manage to block all adblockers sooner or later. So I subscribed on a browser, just avoiding the Apple tax, because Apple hasn't found a way yet to prevent me from using my YouTube subscription on an Apple device when I haven't subscribed via Apple. Going from Premium Lite to full Premium wasn't exactly what I wanted, but I do have to admit that the full Premium subscription for YouTube has some added advantages that I might use. On a mobile device, the ability to download videos is actually useful. And I am not very happy with the Amazon Music service I get for free with my Amazon Prime subscription, so maybe YouTube Music is better. Although getting YouTube Music to run on an Amazon Echo is a whole added story, where you need to basically turn your Echo into a Bluetooth speaker instead of using Alexa.