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Google yanks YouTube from Amazon in battle that harms consumers

Google and Amazon are at odds over access, marking a very public division between two tech giants that could cause interruptions for consumers. The two companies had appeared to resolve a question around access to YouTube on the Amazon Echo Show in late November, but Google has reversed course. Today, Google announced that it would not allow YouTube access on either the Amazon Echo Show or the Amazon Fire TV.

“Amazon doesn’t carry Google products like Chromecast and Google Home, doesn’t make (its) Prime Video available for Google Cast users, and last month stopped selling some of (our sister company) Nest’s latest products,” Google has said in a statement. “Given this lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting YouTube on Echo Show and Fire TV. We hope we can reach an agreement to resolve these issues soon.”

“Google is setting a disappointing precedent by selectively blocking customer access to an open website,” Amazon responded in a statement. Although Google is preventing the YouTube app from functioning on those platforms, Reuters reported that the website can still be used to view videos as a stopgap measure.

As more of the top tech companies spread their reach to include both hardware and software, the question of how much space to give to rivals has become more relevant. Keeping competitors’ services off your own devices could funnel more customers into your in-house content options, but it also could create ill-will among those same customers for limiting their choices. This particular debate is exacerbated by the omnipresence of Amazon as an online retailer. These debates are also more commonly had under a veil of civility, with corporate messaging softening the rough message between the lines. The previous back-and-forth over YouTube on the Echo Show is a perfect instance. Google’s willingness to be explicit about the usually hush-hush topic of competition escalates the proceedings.

The timing is also unlikely to make either company emerge in a positive light. Amazon recently announced that its Echo speakers were some of the best-sellers during the Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend. Video access is a critical component of both the Echo Show and Fire TV, and customers buying either might have assumed that a massive content provider like YouTube would be available.

RAIN News will be reporting on any further developments in how the two tech majors resolve the current debate.

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Anna Washenko

2 Comments

  1. This reminds me of how Amazon pulled Audible from Sonos a while back. I guess that is changing slightly now that there is a Sonos model that supports Alexa. I like my hardware to be content agnostic. Imagine if in the old days GE Televisions wouldn’t pick up ABC stations.

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