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

On Tuesday, Google shut down its video service on Amazon's touchscreen-enabled smart speaker and plans to stop supporting YouTube on the Fire TV by January 1.

Explaining the measure, Google said in a statement: "We've been trying to reach agreement with Amazon to give consumers access to each other's products and services". Amazon and Google, which is owned by Alphabet Inc, square off in many areas, from cloud computing and online search, to selling voice-controlled gadgets like the Google Home and Amazon Echo Show.

"Google is setting a disappointing precedent by selectively blocking customer access to an open website", Amazon told Reuters in a statement.

Both companies said they hope to resolve the issue quickly. Google has now blocked access for that version as well, and the company will soon pull support for the much more popular Fire TV, Amazon's streaming media player.

In a row that has simmered over the past two years between Google and Amazon, tempers appear to have flared in the latest spat between the two global tech giants.

Google said that it will no longer offer YouTube app support on Amazon's screen-based Echo Show smart speaker and Amazon Fire TV in response to Amazon's reluctance to sell Google's products. It's understandable that Google is frustrated by Amazon using its service but not selling its products, but pulling YouTube from Amazon's devices means that Google is making it harder to use YouTube on Amazon's hardware.

The loss of YouTube could deal a major blow to Amazon's streaming devices, and many users had already flooded the Echo Show store page with negative reviews when it first lost access in September. Similarly, Amazon Prime Video doesn't support Google's Cast feature, making it hard to get video to a big screen for Android users. At the time, both companies blamed each other for the outage, and Amazon eventually managed to get YouTube working again on the device in November. This shows that Google wants to impose its own rules on how YouTube is rendered on Amazon's devices, but that doesn't seem to imply that Google is seeking control. But as Google ramps up its voice assistant game, and Amazon pushes ahead with Prime video, these two are just hurting their customers' experiences.

  • Joe Gonzales