Google pulls YouTube from Fire TV as Amazon spat continues

The Alphabet and Amazon wars might sound like particularly on-the-nose cyberpunk plotpoint, but a feud between two of the world’s most powerful companies is building pace – well, at least in terms of streaming services.

Google has announced that Amazon Fire TV users will no longer be able to access YouTube on the streaming device, as of 1 January 2018. In a report from Variety, a Google spokesperson chalks this decision up to Amazon’s continued unwillingness to see Google-owned Chromecast devices on its online marketplace.

“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.”

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Google actually blocked YouTube from the Amazon Echo Show three months ago, making it a lot harder for people using the device to look up cookery tutorials or music videos as they use the screen-based home hub. At the time, Google said Amazon’s implementation of YouTube created a “broken user experience”, with Amazon subsequently finding a workaround by letting users access the web version of the video site. This wasn’t sanctioned by Google.  

That workaround will stop functioning as of 1 January 2018, and the YouTube app will no longer work on Fire TV from the same date. In response, an Amazon spokesperson told Alphr that Google is setting a “disappointing precedent”:

“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.”

It doesn’t take a big stretch to see this as Google twisting Amazon’s arm into allowing a better deal for the Alphabet-owned company. Amazon stopped selling Chromecast devices in 2015, and some Nest devices after Google’s original decision to pull YouTube from the Echo Show. Google also has its own home assistant, the Google Home, to consider. Would it purposefully cripple a rival product by denying it access to YouTube, and therefore make it less valuable in the eyes on customers in the lead up to Christmas? Would Mr ‘Do No Evil’ think about such a thing? Surely not.   

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