Google Pulls YouTube Off Amazon's Echo Show

Christian Cutler September 27, 2017
Google Pulls YouTube Off Amazon's Echo Show

Amazon.com Inc said on Tuesday that videos from YouTube could no longer be played through its Echo Show devices, blaming the video streaming site’s parent company, Google.

“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,” said Amazon in a statement.

However, Google issued a statement that contradicts Amazon’s claim. It said, “We’ve been in negotiations with Amazon for a long time, working towards an agreement that provides great experience 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.”

According to YouTube’s API terms of service, developers are required to maintain integral features on the core of the video sharing and streaming site. On the Echo Show, some of the YouTube functionalities are missing, such as video recommendations, and channel subscriptions.

“It’s a bit of a blow to Amazon,” said Jan Dawson, an analyst at Jackdaw Research. “YouTube is one of the big video services that they had in addition to their own. For that to disappear means a big chunk of the possible video content you could watch on Echo is now gone,” he added, concluding his statement by saying that things would get harder for end users if the companies wouldn’t get along.

Some analysts said that Google’s statement inspires some hope for the return of YouTube to the Echo Show. This would only happen if Amazon complies and does the changes that Google allegedly wants the retail giant to do.

In the past, Google has exhibited its relative strictness when it comes to how YouTube gets displayed on different apps made by other companies. Back in 2013, it made Microsoft revert to a web player for YouTube after the two companies got in a similar feud over the YouTube app.

This latest spat is not the first time competitive tension arose between companies in the Silicon Valley.

Google headquarters at Mountain View, California

Amazon’s Fire TV never received an official YouTube app, and is just using a web-based implementation. It also doesn’t carry any other Google-made apps, although it is based on the Android operating system developed by Google. Amazon chose not to license Android from Google and used the open source components of the operating system to keep itself from depending on Google’s services.

Moreover, Amazon’s media apps are not compatible with Google’s Chromecast streaming devices, while the Amazon Video app is not distributed on Google Play.

In the latter part of 2015, the relationship between the two companies reached a low point when Amazon stopped buffing up Google’s Chromecast streaming device. Amazon booted Apple TV from its websites during that time. More recently, Amazon struck a deal with Apple to carry the device once again. The deal will also make its video app available to the users of Apple TV.

Although an escalated feud between the two giants sounds ominous to most users, who are benefiting from the services offered by the two companies, some experts suggest that a full blown war would less likely happen. This is due to the apparent interconnectedness of the companies’ services.

Aside from this, the two companies have also been busy in their respective industry endeavors. Amazon has recently been trying to get out of its “retail giant” shell and is making efforts to expand and infiltrate the bricks-and-mortar space. Google, on the other hand, is currently dealing with the European Commission over an issue.


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Christian Cutler
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