Google is raising the stakes in its tit-for-tat feud with Amazon: Today, the tech giant announced it will block access to YouTube on Amazon’s Fire TV starting January 1, and to Amazon’s Echo Show devices starting immediately. Google has tried to cut off the Echo Show from YouTube before, but the YouTube app has been available on Fire TV devices since 2014.
In a statement to CNet, a Google spokeswoman noted that Amazon doesn’t sell Google products such as Chromecast and Google Home, recently stopped selling some Nest hardware, and doesn’t support Prime Video on Chromecast devices.
“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,” the Google spokeswoman said.
Google had previously cited terms of service violations in its justification for yanking YouTube from the Echo Show. The new statement drops this pretense in favor of what seemed obvious from the start: Amazon and Google increasingly compete in the areas of smart home, home entertainment, and voice assistants; cutting off access to one another’s products is really all about creating leverage for better business deals.
Amazon seems to think this move has gone a step too far, though.
“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,” an Amazon spokeswoman said via email. “We hope to resolve this with Google as soon as possible.”
One might even argue that Google started the spat years ago, by withholding services like Google Maps and Gmail from Amazon’s Fire tablets. No matter who’s to blame, consumers are getting stuck with the burden. The only hope now is that an escalating conflict will lead to a speedier resolution.JN