Google Pulls YouTube From Amazon Echo: All About Control Or Just More Corporation On Corporation Violence?

from the mytube-not-yourtube dept

If you haven't heard, something slightly strange happened in the tech world a few days ago. Suddenly, and seemingly without warning, Google decided to break YouTube for the Amazon Echo Show product. The Show is the Echo product that comes with a small display screen where you can... you know... watch videos. YouTube used to work on the product, and was even showcased by Amazon when it demonstrated the product at tech shows, but now all you get is Alexa's monotone voice letting you know "Currently, Google is not supporting YouTube on Echo Show."

Exactly why this is happening is something of an open question, since nobody at either company is offering up any details. Amazon's response to the press puts the onus for this flatly on Google, but doesn't detail why it happened.

Google made a change today at around 3 pm. YouTube used to be available to our shared customers on Echo Show. As of this afternoon, Google has chosen to no longer make YouTube available on Echo Show, without explanation and without notification to customers. There is no technical reason for that decision, which is disappointing and hurts both of our customers.

The two primary theories center on Google wanting more control of how the Echo handles its videos or that Google is basically pitching a fit over it and Amazon's long-running competition. For the theory about control, there is speculation that Google wants the Echo to handle YouTube videos in ways it currently doesn't, including playing subsequent videos and offering subscription services.

Reading between the lines, I'd guess Google very much wants features that it thinks are essential for YouTube's future growth included, stuff like subscriptions, next video recommendations, autoplay, and so on. But who knows! Only the negotiators at the table.

Google has a history of being particular about how YouTube gets displayed on apps made by other companies, citing the terms of service on its API. Way back in 2013, it got in a tiff with Microsoft over the YouTube app on Windows Phone, blocking the app and leading Microsoft to just revert to a web player for YouTube.

Let's call this what it actually is: Google has occasionally been hamfisted and stupid on how it handles YouTube on third party devices chiefly in order to exert a greater level of control it rarely actually achieves. In some ways this has all the hallmarks of a Sony-style way of doing business, which is an odd look for Google. The first thing I thought of when reading this story was Playstation 4's Remote Play feature, available in the smartphone and tablet markets only on Sony phones and tablets, which have sold about as well as a pig roast at a vegan convention. Sony too made all the same noises about wanting to control the experience to make sure customers enjoyed Remote Play, but mostly ended up simply not having those customers at all. For Google, this is not a flattering comparison.

But if this is just more shots fired in a corporate tiff, it likely has to do with Amazon's refusal to offer Google's products on its site.

If nothing else, it's clear that Google and Amazon are not doing a very good job working out that deal. (And hey look, the Google Chromecast still isn't officially available to buy on Amazon.)

If that is what this is, then it's even more stupid. Cutting out potential eyeballs for YouTube in order to slap around a competitor is about as misguided as it gets. After all, people have already bought these Echo Shows, and it's going to be tough to frame this in terms of PR as anything beyond a giant corporation throwing a tantrum to the detriment of the public.

And so we'll wait to see if this whole nonsense gets settled somehow. Given how long Amazon and Google have locked horns on other issues, some still ongoing, I won't be holding my breath.


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  • icon
    afn29129 (profile), 27 Sep 2017 @ 1:59pm

    Google vs other browsers....

    Now I eagerly don't await the day that Google (youtube) insists that I use Chrome instead of Firefox..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 27 Sep 2017 @ 2:33pm

      Re: Google vs other browsers....

      Oh, it's worse than that. It's about *hardware* sales.

      The Echo Show is a Smart TV experiment coming from the "Smart" side rather than the TV side. This incident establishes that device detection may be used to block any streaming content from a given brand of Smart TV device.

      Watch for "Star Trek! Only on Siri devices in the US, only on Cortana devices outside North America, and only in Canada on a device created by the cable companies and no longer available but you'll still be billed for it."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PlagueSD (profile), 27 Sep 2017 @ 1:59pm

    Google made a change today at around 3 pm. YouTube used to be available to our shared customers on Echo Show. As of this afternoon, Google has chosen to no longer make YouTube available on Echo Show, without explanation and without notification to customers. There is no technical reason for that decision, which is disappointing and hurts both of our customers.

    Watch for google to release their own product soon...That will handle youtube videos...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2017 @ 2:37pm

    Meanwhile, dozens of open source Youtube plugins continue to work.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TruthHurts (profile), 27 Sep 2017 @ 2:41pm

    Do unto others as they have done unto you...

    Ever notice that you can't get Amazon content on Google Chromecast?

    That was strictly Amazon playing hard ball demanding that Google give them preferential placement on Google's hardware, which obviously Google wasn't going to do.

    Perhaps Amazon will learn to play well with others after this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      TruthHurts (profile), 27 Sep 2017 @ 2:45pm

      Re: Do unto others as they have done unto you...

      http://chromecasthelp.net/

      That link gives info on what Google Chromecast users have to do to get Amazon Prime content to display on Chromecast.

      Requires another device running Chrome browser and "cast to" Chrome App.

      So yeah, Amazon did it first, Google just decided to reciprocate after Amazon released their product.

      I'd love it if Google extended that prohibition to all Amazon hardware.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Chris (profile), 27 Sep 2017 @ 4:49pm

        Re: Re: Do unto others as they have done unto you...

        I've done that for Amazon Prime and other services which don't offer chromecast support. It stinks. Lower resolution, buffering and numerous video artifacts, none of which are normally present on streaming services which support chromecast. Until I switched to Roku, it was simply better to use an HDMI cable.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Phoenix84 (profile), 27 Sep 2017 @ 2:41pm

    Simpler Explanation

    The simpler explanation is probably the most likely:
    Google finally has a way to get back at Amazon for:
    1) Refusing to sell Chromcast on Amazon
    2) Not allowing Amazon Video on Chromecast.

    I'm rooting for Google here, Amazon started this war.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    SirWired, 27 Sep 2017 @ 3:02pm

    I'm with Google here

    Like a couple other commenters have pointed out, Amazon pulled support from the Chromecast and refuses to sell the device either.

    If Amazon won't provide their content on a Google device, it seems pretty darn reasonable for Google to reciprocate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2017 @ 8:08pm

      Re: I'm with Google here

      The reason they refused to sell Chromecasts though is claimed to be that it doesn't support Amazon's video offerings. Whose fault is that?

      The issue with Amazon's Instant/Prime video is also not just the with Chromecast. You also can't get it on the Nexus Player, even though other devices running Android TV work with just fine. It doesn't even work when sideloading the same app as the other devices, they've blocked it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Sirwired, 27 Sep 2017 @ 8:13pm

        It's Amazons fault

        Chromecast doesn't support Amazon because Amazon refuses to release the app to support it. It'd work just fine if they did.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        TruthHurts (profile), 28 Sep 2017 @ 2:24pm

        Re: Re: I'm with Google here

        The fault lies squarely upon Amazon.

        I really wish Google would turn off all their services on Amazon products.

        Sorry Alexa, you can't use Google search to find your answers anymore, and Bing just doesn't cut it.
        Perhaps you can resurrect AskJeeves or something similar.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2017 @ 3:26pm

    Spy vs. Spy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2017 @ 6:36pm

    "Article about Google?!?!? Masnick must be a Google shill! Double dashes, capitalized words, why won't Masnick let in my seventeen consecutive posts?!?!?!?"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2017 @ 7:09pm

    "There is no technical reason for that decision, which is disappointing and hurts both of our customers."

    So Amazon Echo has only two customers?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2017 @ 3:01am

    Google Home, now with display screen imminent...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Yes, I know I'm commenting anonymously, 28 Sep 2017 @ 4:03am

    YouTube has become much more agressive at pushing more irritating clickbait to their viewers since fb started doing video.
    I'm more inclined to think Google is seeing YouTube's revenue falling and is doing knee-jerk reactions as any lazy incumbant would. Amazon now gets cought in that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      TruthHurts (profile), 28 Sep 2017 @ 2:26pm

      Re:

      Knee-jerk to return the favor that Amazon has done for years?

      Amazon is lucky Google just doesn't pull the plug on everything Amazon. Amazon's hardware and service offerings would plummet.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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