A phone call from Amazon’s retail division informing Nest of its decision not sell the company’s latest line of hardware, such as the Nest Cam IQ and its latest-generation smart thermostat, to name a couple, has played the catalyst in the ongoing feud between the two giants, an insider familiar with the call told Business Insider.
However, the call in question was made late last year when Nest was still an independent Alphabet subsidiary; it was just last month that the company was taken back into the Google scheme of things, having spent three years in the standalone wilderness.
The quality of the Nest products was not the reason behind the decision though, which, according to the Business Insider source, came from the top. As a matter of fact, the concerned Nest hardware had been getting excellent reviews on the Amazon site.
Although no names were mentioned, Nest employees believed that the directive had come from none other than the Amazon billionaire CEO Jeff Bezos himself.
Also, Nest employees had prior information about the Amazon move, having been tipped off by its soon-to-be owners Google.
If the Business Insider source is to be believed, the Amazon decision did not go down well with Google, forcing the company to take the extreme decision of not selling Nest products at all on the Amazon platform, henceforth.
While Amazon can continue selling its current inventory, it will not be receiving replenishments from Nest, if the Business Insider report is anything to go by.
This development between the two titans is the latest in a series of an-eye-for-an-eye moves by both, going back some months in time, now.
Early in December last year, Google-owned YouTube announced that it was discontinuing the video-sharing service on Fire TV as well as Echo Show – Amazon’s only smart speaker with a screen.
“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,” a YouTube spokesperson said in a statement at the time.
“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,” he added.
It wasn’t the first time that Google had withdrawn YouTube from the Amazon Echo Show. In a similar move in September last year, the tech giant had withdrawn the service citing breach of “Terms of Service” on the part of Amazon.
It was the retail behemoth, though, which had first accused Google of discontinuing YouTube without prior intimation, saying that the unannounced move was a source of disappointment for both Google and Amazon customers.
Here’s what Amazon had said in its September 26th statement:
“Google made a change today around 3 pm. YouTube used to be available to our shared customers on Echo Show. As of this afternoon, Google has chosen to no longer make YouTube available on Echo Show, without explanation and without notification to customers. There is no technical reason for that decision, which is disappointing and hurts both of our customers.”
However, in a statement given to THE VERGE at the time, Google had countered Amazon’s claim, saying that the way the retail company had implemented YouTube on its Echo Show was in violation of the “Terms of Service”
“We’ve been in negotiations with Amazon for a long time, working towards an agreement that provides great experiences for customers on both platforms. Amazon’s implementation of YouTube on the Echo Show violates our terms of service, creating a broken user experience. We hope to be able to reach an agreement and resolve these issues soon.”
About a fortnight prior to the December withdrawal of the service, YouTube had returned to Echo Show – an indication that differences between the two companies had been ironed out and that Amazon was in compliance with Google’s conditions.
An Amazon representative had confirmed the reinstatement, saying that in addition to the Google service, the company was also providing other sources of video content to its Echo Show users.
“We’re excited to offer customers the capability to watch even more video content from sources such as Vimeo, YouTube, and Dailymotion on Echo Show. More video sources will be added over time.”
However, Google accused Amazon of overlaying voice controls on top of the service which, according to Google, was a Terms of Service breach on the part of Amazon.
From Google’s December announcement that it was not only taking away YouTube from the Echo Show again but was also discontinuing the service from Amazon Fire TV as well, it became glaringly obvious that there was more to the feud than met the eye.
In order to promote its own products such as Echo Show and Fire TV, Amazon has been known to discourage similar competitor products on its online site.
It stopped selling Google products like Chromecast and Google Home in addition to other company products including the Apple TV and LINE smart speakers. Also, it doesn’t provide Prime Video to Google Cast users.
While Amazon was happy to sell Nest devices earlier, promoting them with catchphrases like “working with Alexa” and calling the Nest Thermostat “Amazon’s Choice,” its sudden decision to remove them from its online retail outlet appeared to have been an attempt to pressurize Google into easing up on its YouTube “Terms of Service.”
The growing feud does not seem to be benefiting either of the two companies, in that both their customers are being deprived.
While Amazon Echo Show users are missing out on one of the most popular video-sharing sites in the world, Google customers will not be able to buy its products like the Google Home, Chromecast and Nest devices on the world’s biggest retail website.
The sooner the two companies resolve their disagreements the better for them as well as their customers.
As of now, it’s the customers on both sides who are actually losing out. As they say, when two elephants engage in a fight, it’s the ground they fight on that suffers the most.