Google-owned YouTube announced Tuesday afternoon 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. 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.”
It is not the first time, though, that Google has withdrawn YouTube from the Amazon Echo Show. In a similar move in September this year, the tech giant had withdrawn the service citing breach of “Terms of Service” on the part of Amazon.
It was the retail behemoth which had first accused Google of discontinuing the service 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, 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.”
Apparently, YouTube features like channel subscriptions, related videos, commenting and sharing, among other services, were not available on the Echo Show version of the Google service.
About a fortnight ago, YouTube returned to Echo Show – an indication that differences between the two companies had been ironed out and that Amazon was now 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.”
When Amazon brought back the new version of YouTube on the Echo Show a couple of weeks ago, it overlaid voice controls on top of the service which, according to Google, was again a break away from its “Terms of Service.”
However, from Google’s Tuesday announcement that it was not only taking away YouTube from the Echo Show once again but was discontinuing the service from Amazon Fire TV as well, it appears that there is more to the feud than meets 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.
More recently, it stopped selling Nest’s latest products including Nest Thermostat E, Nest Camera IQ and Nest Secure alarm system, which is, probably, why Google is on a warpath with Amazon once again.
While Amazon was happy to sell Nest devices earlier, promoting them with catchphrases like “working with Alexa” and calling the Nest Thermostat an “Amazon’s Choice,” its sudden decision to remove them from its online retail outlet seems to be an attempt to pressurize Google into easing up on its YouTube “Terms of Service.”
While the Echo Show version of YouTube stopped working from Tuesday, Fire TV users will lose the app on January 1, 2018, giving them enough time to make alternative arrangements like going for other company streaming players. Or perhaps, they can opt for the Amazon workaround by using the newly included Amazon Silk web browser to access the YouTube site on Fire TV.
The 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. Until then, Echo Show and Fire TV redirect their users to the YouTube website according to an Amazon statement.
“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.”