Google And Amazon’s Fight Over Content Platforms Hurts 4K TV Owners
Stephan Jukic – December 6, 2017
In what is only the most recent move in an ongoing dispute between two internet services behemoths, Google has, as of Tuesday, pulled its YouTube app from Amazon’s streaming video service, meaning that users of Amazon’s services such as the Amazon Echo Show and Amazon Fire TV can (again) no longer get the Google-owned streaming video platform from these products. Considering the popularity of YouTube, for both its vast selection of ordinary content and growing selection of ultra HD offerings, this Google move should be annoying for many to say the least.
This of course isn’t the first time that these sorts of moves have been pulled. The two companies have been at odds for a while on content access across their platforms, with Google having blocked YouTube from Echo Show once already in September before reinstating the app again in November, only to take it down once more now.
According to Google, these actions are in response to Amazon’s continuing lack of reciprocity with Google’s own products in its own devices and services.
Specifically, according to a Google spokesperson:
“We’ve been trying to reach agreement with Amazon to give consumers access to each other’s products and services. But Amazon doesn’t carry Google products like Chromecast and Google Home, doesn’t make Prime Video available for Google Cast users, and last month stopped selling some of Nest’s latest products. Given this lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting YouTube on Echo Show and FireTV. We hope we can reach an agreement to resolve these issues soon.”
Amazon hasn’t been quiet about their take on this either. The company firstly assured users that they could still access the standard YouTube desktop platform through Amazon products despite Google’s removal of the YouTube app itself and then went on to criticize Google’s actions by saying that:
“Echo Show and Fire TV now display a standard web view of YouTube.com and point customers directly to YouTube’s existing website. Google is setting a disappointing precedent by selectively blocking customer access to an open website. We hope to resolve this with Google as soon as possible.”
In other words, it’s looking like a tech giant version of “he said, she said” at this point.
Amazon has however definitely pulled its own shenanigans against Google. In 2015 the company kicked Google’s Chromecast streaming device off its widely used retail website and since then, updated versions of Chromecast, including the 4K HDR Chromecast Ultra remain off limits to amazon.com. The same applies for Google Home, Google’s smart home device.
And because this dispute involves content and services by two of the world’s absolute biggest digital technology companies, naturally enough, other related industry players have also waded in with their own two cents. Most notably, Jonathan Spalter, CEO of USTelecom, a U.S telecom lobbying and trade organization, stated that,
“Broadband ISPs are committed to providing an open internet for their customers, including protections like no content blocking or throttling. Seems like some of the biggest internet companies can’t say the same. Ironic, isn’t it?”
These comments being an indirect reference to ISP companies own conflict with numerous other technology giants (particularly Google’s parent company, Alphabet, itself) over the push by these same ISPs to have the U.S FCC regulatory agency repeal net neutrality legislation in the coming weeks.
Moving back to the Google vs. Amazon product conflict, it definitely affects the near future of several key technologies in the home entertainment and voice controlled device spheres. Both Google and Amazon offer content platforms and streaming video services through their respective smart devices, all of which also come with voice control technology. Furthermore, key rival “smart home” products Google Home and Amazon Echo are similar enough that they directly compete in this crucial home technology industry. However, Amazon’s array of voice controlled devices has generally outsold Google’s offerings, and the complaint by Google that Amazon refuses to sell their own hardware through its massive online retailing platform might have something to do with this, at least in the eyes of Google executives.
The YouTube app removal for Fire TV and Echo Show goes into effect as of January 1st, so who knows, maybe the two giants will mend fences again in the meantime. Whatever the case may be, Owners of ultra HD TVs connected to Amazon streaming devices like the Fire TV 4K dongle will have a little bit more difficulty getting their hands on YouTube’s 4K UHD content for the time being, though the YouTube platform will still be available in a more limited form. Amazon Prime Instant Video, which is the much more robust ultra HD entertainment platform, is for its part not available through Google’s own streaming media device, the Chromecast.