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Google pulls YouTube from Amazon devices, saying it isn't playing fair

Retaliation for Amazon's website not selling some Google products

Jack Nicas | WSJ 

Amazon
Google said Amazon’s retail website doesn’t sell competing products like the Google Home smart speaker or Google’s Chromecast streaming device Photo: Reuters

said it is pulling from some com Inc. devices in retaliation for refusing to sell many products, escalating a battle between two tech titans as their businesses increasingly overlap.

said Tuesday it had cut access to on Amazon’s smart speakers with screens, called the Echo Show, and that it plans to block on Amazon’s Fire TV media-streaming device on Jan. 1.

Google, a unit of , said Amazon’s retail website doesn’t sell competing products like the Home smart speaker or Google’s Chromecast streaming device. also claimed that Amazon’s Prime Video lineup of shows and movies isn’t available via the Chromecast. 

It added that has stopped selling some products from Nest, a connected-device maker that is Google’s sister firm under Alphabet. in October launched a home-security system that competes with Nest.

“Given this lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting on Echo Show and Fire TV,” a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

An spokeswoman said, “is setting a disappointing precedent by selectively blocking customer access to an open website.”

Both companies said they hope to resolve the issue quickly.

The rare public spat between two of the world’s most powerful companies highlights increasing tensions as they spread their ambitions to new products and industries. 

While started in online search and in retail, each now has competing hardware and content businesses that they are betting will expand their dominance. 

already pulled off device in September because it said Amazon’s implementation of violated its policies by barring users from logging in or commenting.

Last month, a few days before the Black Friday shopping bonanza, said was working on the Echo Show again. A person familiar with Google’s thinking said had worked around its move to block access to its voice-controlled app by sending users to YouTube’s website, an approach that also violates YouTube’s policies. Amazon’s Prime Video service, which offers access to movies and TV shows over the internet, is blocked on Google’s Chromecast streaming device, which sends content from phones and laptops onto TVs. 

Now will be blocking access to on Amazon’s Fire TV streaming device.

has tried to negotiate with to get its Chromecast and Home products on Amazon’s retail site, but has told bluntly it won’t sell them, according to the person familiar with Google’s thinking. On Tuesday, asking Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant to add a Chromecast to a user’s shopping cart caused the assistant to add Amazon’s competing Fire TV Stick to the cart. also doesn’t sell Apple Inc . AAPL -0.09% ‘s Apple TV streaming device. A person familiar with Amazon’s thinking said retailers frequently decide against carrying certain products, but it is rare for any firm to block access to a public website.

The person familiar with Google’s thinking said also built an unauthorized way to access via its Fire TV device.

The spokeswoman said the Echo Show and Fire TV display standard web views of com.

Patrick Moorhead, head of tech-research firm Moor Insights & Strategy, said appears to be using access to as leverage in its negotiations with Amazon-and the losers are customers. 

“This is classic tech-giant sparring,” he said. “For consumers, it’s not good.”

Still, the companies likely won’t stop working together in other areas. Their relationship is complicated. is one of Google’s largest customers, buying many high-price ads on its search engine. also still sells other popular products through Amazon, including its new Pixel smartphones. 


First Published: Wed, December 06 2017. 23:53 IST
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