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Google withdraws YouTube app from Amazon Fire TV

Google hasn’t been happy about Amazon’s anti-competitive nature when it comes to allowing rivals to sell their own hardware items – like smart speakers and media players – on Amazon.com.

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Google and getty images both will be benefited by this collaboration. Wikimedia Commons
Google and getty images both will be benefited by this collaboration. Wikimedia Commons
  • A disagreement between both the companies fires up their rivalry.
  • Although Amazon is working fine with Apple TV, The disagreements with Google are not seeming to end.
  • This rivalry has made Roku, the biggest streaming service in the U.S.A.

The feud between Amazon and Google continues today with the early removal of YouTube from the Fire TV – a move Google had said wouldn’t take place until January 1, 2018. But as a number of Fire TV owners have now noticed, launching the YouTube app today informs you that you can choose to watch “YouTube and millions of other websites” by using a web browser. You then have the option to choose from Amazon’s own Silk browser or Firefox, with a click of a button.

Amazon's rivalry with Google intensified . Wikimedia
Amazon’s rivalry with Google intensified. Wikimedia

The disagreements between the companies that led to this consumer-unfriendly stance go back several years.

Google hasn’t been happy about Amazon’s anti-competitive nature when it comes to allowing rivals to sell their own hardware items – like smart speakers and media players – on Amazon.com. The retailer has long refused to stock devices that competed with its own – like Apple TV, Chromecast, Google Home, and others – in an effort to promote Amazon products like Echo speakers and Fire TV.

However, Amazon and Apple recently negotiated an agreement that brought the Apple TV back to Amazon and Amazon’s Prime Video app to Apple TV.

Meanwhile, it seemed discussions between Amazon and Google were improving earlier this month when the Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra reappeared on Amazon.com. (They’re still showing as “currently unavailable,” however.)

The other issue at hand was that Amazon had launched its own version of Google’s YouTube player for its Echo Show device, without working with Google to ensure core features were accessible. There’s been quite a bit of back and forth on this matter, with Google pulling that player, only to have Amazon surreptitiously work around the block by implementing a web version of YouTube instead.

That led Google this month to declare that it would pull YouTube entirely from Amazon’s hardware lineup, including Fire TV. The player was yanked immediately from Echo Show, but Fire TV owners were told that the app would work until January 1, 2018.

It would be unusual for Google to actually pull the YouTube app ahead of its deadline, which indicates this change – to point YouTube users to web browsers instead – may have come from Amazon’s side.

That theory is further backed up by the fact that sideloading the YouTube app onto Fire TV will continue to display the “warning” message, according to a report from AFTVNews.com and commenters on Reddit.

However, it’s unclear if Amazon’s choice to redirect YouTube users to web browsers ahead of schedule is fully rolled out. One report from Cord Cutter News said you’ll only see the browser choice screen if you have a browser installed on your Fire TV, for example. (Update: a recompilation of the app’s code, though, indicates the app has been changed to only point to the web browser – no matter if you have one installed or not.)

Amazon Fire TV Logo. Wikimedia Common
Amazon Fire TV Logo. Wikimedia Common

On two Fire TV devices we have here (a prior generation and new generation player), we’re only seeing the browser choice screen as of today. And many users worldwide are reporting the same, per Twitter.

We’ve reached out to Amazon and Google for comment. Google has not responded, but a rep from Amazon offered the following statement:

“I can confirm that YouTube and millions of other websites are accessible by using a web browser like Firefox or Silk on Fire TV.”

With all this drama, is it any wonder that Roku is the top streaming device in the U.S.?

Consumers don’t want to be jerked around like this all because two competitors can’t work out a reasonable solution that serves both their interests. At the end of the day, Amazon and Google only hurting themselves by alienating their overlapping customer base – a group that easily could (and probably should) switch to Roku at this point. IANS

Next Story

Amazon Plans to Close its Domestic Marketplace in China by Mid-July

Amazon shoppers in China will no longer be able to buy goods from third-party merchants in the country, but they still will be able to order from the United States, Britain, Denmark and Japan via the firm’s global store

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amazon, china
FILE - Amazon plans to close its domestic marketplace in China to focus on more lucrative businesses there. VOA

Amazon.com Inc. plans to close its domestic marketplace in China by mid-July, people familiar with the matter told Reuters, focusing efforts on more lucrative businesses selling overseas goods and cloud services in the world’s most populous nation.

Amazon shoppers in China will no longer be able to buy goods from third-party merchants in the country, but they still will be able to order from the United States, Britain, Denmark and Japan via the firm’s global store. Amazon expects to close fulfillment centers and wind down support for domestic-selling merchants in China in the next 90 days, one of the people said.

Home-grown e-commerce

The move underscores how entrenched, home-grown e-commerce rivals have made it difficult for Amazon’s marketplace to gain a foothold. Consumer insights firm iResearch Global said Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s Tmall marketplace and JD.com Inc. controlled 81.9 percent of the Chinese market last year.

“They’re pulling out because it’s not profitable and not growing,” said analyst Michael Pachter at Wedbush Securities. Ker Zheng, marketing specialist at Shenzhen-based e-commerce consultancy Azoya, said Amazon had no major competitive advantage in China over its domestic rivals.

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FILE – A logo of JD.com is seen on a helmet of a delivery man in Beijing, June 16, 2014. VOA

Unless someone is searching for a very specific imported good that can’t be found elsewhere, “there’s no reason for a consumer to pick Amazon because they’re not going to be able to ship things as fast as Tmall or JD,” he said.

Amazon’s customers in China will still be able to purchase the firm’s Kindle e-readers and online content, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud computing unit that sells data storage and computing power to enterprises, will remain as well.

The U.S.-listed shares of Alibaba and JD.com rose 1% Wednesday after Reuters first reported the move, before paring gains later in the day. Amazon’s shares closed flat.

US retreat, e-commerce showdown

The withdrawal of the world’s largest online retailer — founded by the world’s richest person — comes amid a broader e-commerce slowdown in China. Alibaba in January reported its lowest quarterly earnings growth since 2016, while JD.com is responding to the changing business environment with staff cuts.

 

amazon, china, flipkart
FILE – A worker removes an advertisement billboard of Indian online marketplace Flipkart, installed along the roadside in Mumbai, India, Oct. 16, 2015. Amazon.com Inc. is concentrating on India and its competition, Flipkart. VOA

It also follows the Chinese e-commerce retreat of other big-name Western retailers. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. sold its Chinese online shopping platform to JD.com in 2016 in return for a stake in JD.com to focus on its bricks-and-mortar stores.

Similarly, the country appears to factor less in the global aspirations of fellow U.S. tech majors Netflix Inc., Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Pachter said.

ALSO READ: Microsoft, Amazon in Race For $10bn Pentagon Project

Amazon bought Chinese online shopping website Joyo.com in 2004 for $75 million, rebranding the business in 2011 as Amazon China. But in a sign of Tmall’s dominance, Amazon nevertheless opened an online store on the Alibaba site in 2015.

The firm is still expanding aggressively in other countries, notably India, where it is contending with local rival Flipkart. (VOA)