THE LONG TERM feud that has been quietly been brewing between Google and Amazon spilt over last night as the search giant announced it would be removing its YouTube app from Amazon products.
The news affects the Echo Show personal assistant (the Alexa model with a screen) which will be silenced immediately, with Amazon Fire TV dongles and boxes losing access by the end of the year.
YouTube had only just been made available on the Echo Show because of the long-running dispute claiming a ‘broken user experience' for the app, however, Google remains frustrated that Amazon withdrew sale of Google hardware, such as the wildly successful Google Chromecast, in an attempt to push people towards the Amazon equivalents.
It is also refusing to carry Nest products, and its apps have been stubbornly left without Cast support.
Meanwhile, Google is refusing to let Amazon overlay Alexa controls on YouTube, citing a violation of its terms and conditions.
It's a classic example of two companies fighting very publicly at the expense of the customer.
Although Amazon markets its devices as having Fire OS, it is, in reality, a customized version of Android, meaning that the incompatibilities are purely artificial.
At the launch of the original Echo in the UK, we were told that when it came to Google, the 'door is always open';, but it seems that both parties are refusing to compromise.
With each having a significant share of the leverage, it is going to be down to who blinks first, but with Amazon's business model based on low-profit margin ecosystem lock into a non-Google version of Android, any compromise on its side will be costly.
For Google, however, the loss of revenue from Amazon's website, and the minor inconvenience of Amazon apps not casting is almost inconsequential.
But when push comes to shove, these artificial constraints caused by carriage dispute, just as in the world of linear television, serve for nothing except to inconvenience the end user.
Both parties have said that they hope the matter will be resolved soon, but neither looks likely to budge.
In the meantime, warning notices are starting to appear on Amazon devices about the impending removal of YouTube.
An Amazon spokesperson told us "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. We hope to resolve this with Google as soon as possible." µ
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