Google blocks YouTube from Amazon devices as business conflict escalates
In an escalating tit-for-tat spat between Google and Amazon, the internet search giant on Tuesday began blocking certain Amazon devices from accessing YouTube, and announced the list will grow starting next month.
According to a Google spokesperson, the decision to block YouTube access is the result of Amazon's unwillingness to reach an amicable business arrangement regarding Google's hardware products.
"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," the representative said. "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."
Amazon in a response wagged its finger at Google, saying the move sets a "disappointing precedent" by selectively blocking access to an open website. The retailer points out that both Echo Show and Fire TV display a standard web view of YouTube.com seemingly not related to YouTube's API. Further, the implementation points customers to YouTube's website.
Google previously blocked YouTube access to Echo Show in September, saying the initial implementation violated terms of service. The companies hammered out their differences and service returned a month later.
The report, citing sources familiar with Google's thinking, claims Amazon once again violated YouTube's terms of service by slapping voice control assets onto a web app not designed to handle such functionality.
Amazon is well known for using its e-commerce clout to steer consumer tastes toward its own first-party products. Beyond Google's products, which compete with Echo and Fire TV devices, Apple too saw its Apple TV set-top streamer pulled from Amazon's online storefront in 2015.
At the time, Amazon said it removed Google and Apple products in an effort to avoid customer confusion. Specifically, the company notes the importance of selling only those streaming devices that "interact well" with its Amazon Prime Video subscription service. The move signaled Amazon's unwillingness to build an Apple TV channel — or later a tvOS app — that would deliver Prime Video to Apple TV owners.
The coming YouTube restriction further bifurcates an already complex streaming landscape that will, ironically, confuse most consumers. Come January, Apple TV and Google Chromecast devices will have access to YouTube but not Prime Video, while Amazon devices will be able to stream Prime Video but not YouTube.
Google's decision makes streaming giant Roku the real winner, as its devices will continue to offer access to both YouTube and Prime Video.
Amazon is reportedly developing a Prime Video app for tvOS, but it is unknown whether that title will launch anytime soon.