What happens when two of the biggest tech giants get into a dispute? Usually the customers suffer. And that’s just what’s happening in an ongoing dispute between Amazon and Google.
The latest bout began when Google removed their popular YouTube video channel from Amazon’s Fire TV, their $70 TV device that connects to a variety of video services, such as Amazon Prime video, Hulu, ESPN, and Netflix.
Google also pulled YouTube from the Amazon Echo Show, Amazon’s new Echo voice-assisted speaker with a color video display. Google, coincidently, makes a competitive line of smart speakers, called Google Home, which, also coincidently, was banned from the Amazon site.
Google explained that they pulled YouTube from Amazon products in retaliation for Amazon no longer allowing the sale of their Nest smart thermostats and security systems on Amazon, and for previously refusing to sell Google’s TV accessory, Chromecast.
Chromecast, of course, competes with Amazon’s Fire TV, but Amazon has prevented it from working with Amazon’s popular Prime video app. We can see where this is going and it’s not good.
Amazon’s biggest impact on Google in this battle is not allowing the sale of Google’s products on their huge online store, while Google’s impact on Amazon is probably more serious: removing YouTube, one of the most popular video services, from Fire TV. YouTube is one reason why many customers bought Fire TV in the first place.
While each company can expect to see a financial hit, it’s the customers who will suffer, including the millions of current Fire TV users.
Amazon’s refusal to sell Google products on their store is a disservice to their own Prime customers who purchase products on Amazon and get free shipping. Google’s products no longer come up in searches when customers look for smart speakers or connected thermostats; instead, they bring up their competitors’ products. So if you thought Amazon was the store where you could buy anything, think again. Of course, it’s not the first time Amazon prevented the sale of competitive products. They never allowed Barnes and Noble’s e-reader, the Nook, to be sold.
This behavior is embarrassing, infantile, and shameful with neither Amazon nor Google justified in what they are doing. And each has the means to continue to retaliate against each other if they so choose. But there’s no truth to the rumor that Google will erase Amazon buildings from Google Maps. (Just kidding.)
Most of all this is bad for the consumer. But this may just be the beginning of the corporate dogfights we can look forward to.
With net neutrality about to be scrapped by the FCC, each Internet provider will now be able to treat their customers differently based on corporate rivalries and for competitive reasons. And it’s an opportunity to take revenge on their rivals, much like Amazon and Google are doing.
Net neutrality prohibits Internet service providers such as Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast from speeding up, slowing down, blocking or otherwise favoring specific content, apps or websites we use.
If net neutrality is eliminated, we can expect the providers to do just that: speed up, slow down, block or otherwise favor specific content, apps, or websites we use.
The providers, most of whom own or are acquiring content companies, are likely to come up with all sorts of schemes to punish and penalize their competitors. Expect to see some of the wireless providers restrict content from those that don’t pay a premium, push content faster from their affiliates, and slow down competitors’ products. Yes, it’s about to become a free-for-all. Every big company is looking out for themselves, but no one is looking out for the consumer.