Update 01/02/2018: Any hope that the faint signs of peace between Amazon and Google would lead to an amicable solution that wouldn’t further impact consumers have been dashed. YouTube has now been officially blocked on both the Echo Show and Fire TV media players.
While some users reported access issues a few days early, the YouTube app on both devices now redirects to a standard web view of the hugely popular video app for all users.
In response, Amazon has reiterated comments it made in early December after Google made it clear that it would pull support for the app after January 1st, 2018. In a statement to Variety, the retailer accused Google of “setting a disappointing precedent by selectively blocking customer access to an open website,” before noting that it hopes to resolve the situation “as soon as possible.”
It seems that all of those “productive discussions” were for nothing, then. For the time being, Fire TV users can get around the ‘ban’ by using the Silk or Firefox browsers, but it’s far from an ideal scenario. Here’s hoping the two industry heavyweights can get along and we can all get back to watching funny cat videos on whichever device we choose.
Update 12/15/2017: The Amazon and Google spat over YouTube access on the Fire TV might be drawing to a close. In statements to The Verge, a Google spokesperson said that the two companies were in “productive discussions” over the matter and that they were seeking “an agreement for the benefit of [their] mutual customers.”
We reported yesterday that Amazon had started selling the Google Chromecast again after removing it from the store in 2015 — so it does indeed seem like the relationship is being repaired. Whether this will see Google abandon its plans to cancel YouTube on the Fire TV on January 1 remains to be seen.
The product war between Amazon and Google reached a new level today. Google announced it will officially block access to YouTube for Amazon’s Echo Show connected video speaker, along with its streaming Fire TV devices.
You may remember that back in September, Google pulled YouTube support for Amazon’s Echo Show, with Google claiming that the speaker’s version of the YouTube app original app violated its terms of service and lacked a number of important features. In November, Amazon managed to add YouTube support back onto the Echo Show, but that it was a more basic web-based interface.
However, it sounds like Google didn’t care for Amazon’s workaround. In a statement to Engadget, the company said it has blocked YouTube from the Echo Show immediately, and that it will block YouTube support for the Fire TV devices on January 1, 2018. Google’s statement pointed out that Amazon has refused to sell some of its own hardware devices, such as the Google Home speakers and Chromecast, and Amazon also does not support its Prime Video service for Google Cast devices. In November, Google said Amazon also stopped selling some of its connected home devices from its Nest subsidiary.
Engadget added that, according to its own unnamed source, Google reportedly didn’t like Amazon’s YouTube workarounds, which may not allow for the collection of ad revenues that Google gets from those videos. Apparently, the two rivals have been in discussion for some time to resolve these many conflicts, but it looks like Amazon is standing firm on not selling products on its retail sites from direct rivals (that also includes the Apple TV set-top box). Recently, Amazon also stopped allowing owners of Roku devices to download an official Twitch app (although current users can continue to access that app).
It’s likely that Google is using this latest tactic of pulling YouTube support from Amazon’s video devices to force Amazon back to the negotiating table. Blocking YouTube from the Echo Show, and especially the Fire TV products, makes all of them far less desirable compared to competitive products such as Roku, Chromecast, and Apple TV. Whether or not this move will work, or further escalate this product war between Google and Amazon, remains to be seen.
How do you feel about YouTube support blocked from the Echo Show and Fire TV devices? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!