Because Amazon and Google compete in so many areas, they’re almost bound to come into conflict. Amazon’s search capabilities compete with Google because of the size of its retail site. On the other hand, Google is well aware that Amazon Web Services is highly profitable, and is determined to get a bigger piece of the cloud computing pie.
Both companies also make voice-controlled Internet of Things (IOT) devices, such as Google Home and the Amazon Echo Show. However they’ve trodden on each others’ toes so severely recently that the argument between them has come out into the open and customers of both companies have found themselves caught in the crossfire.
Google uses YouTube to retaliate against Amazon
Google owns YouTube, the video streaming application which consumers access over broadband. However, in retaliation for Amazon not selling Google hardware, Google has decided not to allow two Amazon devices to access YouTube.
The fight for dominance in voice-controlled technology is becoming fierce. Amazon’s devices have sold better than Google’s until now but Google is clearly prepared to fight hard to get ahead. In a statement, the company commented that Amazon didn’t carry Google products such as Google Home or Chromecast and didn’t make its Prime Video accessible to Google Cast users. Further, the company said that Amazon had recently ceased selling Nest’s new products. (Nest is a sister company of Google’s).
So as a result of what Google described as a “lack of reciprocity” from Amazon, they withdrew YouTube from Amazon’s Echo Show and Fire TV.
Amazon’s response was to express disappointment at Google setting a precedent by “selectively” blocking access to an open website. It pointed out that customers could still access YouTube on the devices if they went via the internet rather than using the YouTube app.
The Chromecast, Google’s TV player, hasn’t been stocked on the Amazon website since 2015. Amazon also stopped stocking Apple’s TV player. The reason given at the time was that Amazon didn’t want customers to get confused – they might think that the Prime Video service would be available on any device sold on the Amazon site.
Apple and Amazon appear to have patched things up earlier this year with an announcement that Prime Video would feature on the Apple TV. However relationships between Google and Amazon don’t appear to be improving. Indeed, some commentators believe that a platform war is brewing. So how did they get to this point?
Google giving ultimatum date for Fire TV
Many Amazon users, using broadband simply to search for an IPhone or to browse Samsung offerings, will be unaware of this spat. But if they’re Fire TV users, the first they know of it, may be when they settle down to watch YouTube on New Year’s Day. There are many more Fire TV sticks in use than there are Echo Show devices, and removing YouTube from Fire TV would have a much bigger impact on Amazon’s customer base. But that’s what Google is threatening to do on Jan 1st, 2018.
And of course, Netflix and Apple are bound to be considering this dispute to see whether there is any possible advantage to them in the long term.
War for the voice platform
Amazon has Alexa, Google has Assistant, Apple has Siri, Microsoft has Cortana. But only Google and Amazon have launched devices to embody their voice driven offering. And Google strongly believes that its Artificial Intelligence (AI) is better than the other three, and therefore its platform will win in the end.
Enter stage left a somewhat unexpected participant in this high tech drama – none other than Walmart. Why not? If Amazon’s products are aimed at selling more Amazon products, Google can link up with Walmart using its Home device, and push products stocked by Wal-Mart.
But it may be that both companies have another competitor they should be worrying about – Apple is about to launch the “HomePod”. Who knows? Google and Amazon may find it expedient to bury the hatchet in the future in order to try and cut off this new threat.