February 1, 2018 / 6:00 PM / in 6 months

YouTube's emerging markets-focused app expands to 130 countries

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Alphabet Inc's Google extended its YouTube Go video app, designed for emerging markets where consumers may have cheaper phones and limited Internet access, to more than 115 additional countries on Thursday, the company said.

YouTube Go, distinct from the company's flagship mobile app, was first launched in India last April and then introduced in Indonesia, Nigeria and 13 other countries.

The expansion to countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Turkey and Iraq, announced in a YouTube blog post, doubles YouTube Go's availability to about 60 percent of the world's population. YouTube is one of several Google services with more than 1 billion monthly users, and YouTube Go is among nascent efforts at Google to draw another 1 billion users.

The app, which has already attracted millions of downloads, enables videos to be previewed and then downloaded for offline viewing and sharing. Users also see more prompts to control mobile data usage.

Such features aim to make YouTube more attractive to consumers who lack affordable access to high-speed Internet service and powerful smartphones.

The "Go" app can also operate well under those conditions because it does not include features such as commenting or channel subscriptions, and because commercials tend to be shorter than on the primary YouTube app.

The adjustments could result in a different culture around YouTube in some areas compared with in the United States and Western Europe, where amateur videomakers have amassed large followings. It has not been announced whether YouTube Go will make video uploading less data-intensive.

The company expects viewers will transition to traditional YouTube as their technology options evolve, YouTube product manager Jay Akkad said in a video interview. (Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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