Claudia Geib reports that the two internet Goliaths are in the midst of a bitter battle, yet it’s the Davids on the other side of their screens that may feel they’ve been pelted with a rock. On December 5, Google escalated an ongoing feud with Amazon by deciding to remove YouTube from Amazon’s Fire TV, as well as its Echo Show device.
YouTube will disappear from the Show immediately, and will be gone from the FireTV as of January 1.
These moves are purportedly a response to Amazon’s decision to de-list Google Nest products from their online store, despite the Nest thermostat previously being listed as an “Amazon Choice” product that was advertised to work with Amazon Alexa. However, the animosity didn’t start there. The feud between the two originates in an unwillingness, on both sides, to host and sell each other’s products.
Earlier this year, Google removed the YouTube app temporarily from the Amazon Show, returning it through a low-functionality version akin to the desktop site. Supposedly, the alteration of YouTube on the Show was itself a response to Amazon’s overlay of voice control on YouTube, violating its terms of service. (In a sequence somewhere between cold war escalation and a high school vendetta, TechCrunch reports that Amazon’s subsequent de-listing of Nest products was likely a response to this change in the app.) Meanwhile, it took years for Amazon to release a Prime video app in the Google Play store, and the retail store does not sell Google’s Chromecast TV device, given it’s in direct competition to their Fire TV Stick. There’s also no Prime app available for the Chromecast.
If this battle were between a different type of company, imagine, for example, that Google and Amazon both published books, and wouldn’t sell each other’s titles in their brick and mortar stores, we might see this as typical competition, and little more than an inconvenience to customers. After all, this is all completely legal behavior. Yet that doesn’t make it ethically justified. Since both companies impact how we obtain information through the internet, the customer ends up being the real loser.
Read on, there is more.