Amazon and Google have been at odds for years. Their clash has reached a new level today. Google has issued a statement announcing that the company was pulling support for YouTube on the Amazon Echo Show immediately and will pull support for YouTube on Amazon Fire TV devices on January 1st, 2018.
Google’s official statement on the matter is:
“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 Fire TV. We hope we can reach an agreement to resolve these issues soon.”
The conflict between Amazon and Google can be linked back to when Amazon stopped selling the Chromecast and Nexus Player, as well as the Apple TV, on Amazon.com. The reason Amazon gave at the time was that those devices did not “interact well with Prime Video.” It’s strongly believed that Amazon’s gripe was with both Google and Apple requiring all digital purchases on their devices to be made through the Google Play Store or Apple Appstore payment methods. By enforcing such a requirement on all apps, it meant that Amazon customers could not use their Amazon account for video purchases on those devices and Amazon would have to give Google and Apple 30% of all sales, including Prime membership subscriptions.
Amazon and Apple have since come to an agreement that resulted in the two companies announcing that the Apple TV would be returning to Amazon.com and that a Prime Video app will be released for the Apple TV. Amazon and Google have not come to terms, which recently resulted in YouTube being blocked by Google on the Echo Show.
Google’s complaint about the Echo Show was that it provided a “broken user experience” for YouTube because it stripped away many of the service’s components, like letting users log into their YouTube accounts. Amazon recently addressed Google’s complaint and brought YouTube back to the Echo Show by essentially loading the entire YouTube website on the Echo Show when videos are requested.
It appears now that Google was not apprised of Amazon’s solution for YouTube on the Echo Show, since access to the video service on Amazon’s device has once again been removed by Google. Additionally, Google is upset that Amazon has refused to sell new Nest products, which are made by a subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet.
All of the aforementioned disputes and disagreements have culminated in today’s announcement that YouTube will be blocked on Fire TV devices by Google come next year. An Amazon spokesperson told The Verge “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.”
The YouTube app on the Fire TV, much like the Echo Show implementation, is simply a wrapper of the YouTube “leanback” website. This means that Google will essentially be blocking a public facing website from a subset of users based not on how the service is displayed, but how they feel about the device’s manufacturer. That’s quite a disturbing decision. It’s not much different from if Google blocked YouTube for everyone using Firefox to punish Mozilla or Safari to punish Apple.
It may not be evident, but Amazon makes the YouTube app for the Fire TV, so it’s not like Google is deciding to no longer develop software for the Fire TV. That, at least, would be understandable in this circumstance. Instead, Google is literally choosing to put up a wall that blocks access to only people accessing their public website from a specific manufacturer’s device.