Google And Amazon Are Harming Consumers And Behaving Like Obnoxious Toddlers

from the tit-for-tat dept

You might recall that a few years ago, Amazon began banning competing streaming hardware like Apple TV and Google's Chromecast from the Amazon store because these products competed with Amazon's own streaming hardware. At the time, you might also recall that Amazon offered up the historically stupid claim that this was done simply to avoid "customer confusion":

"Over the last three years, Prime Video has become an important part of Prime," Amazon said in the e-mail. "It’s important that the streaming media players we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion."

That decision has only resulted in an ever-escalating game of tit for tat that has started to bubble over in recent months. Around three months ago, YouTube decided to block YouTube from working on Amazon's Echo Show hardware, pushing the bogus claim it was due to a "broken user experience." In response, Amazon expanded its blacklist of Google products by refusing to sell Google Nest hardware as well. This was already bad enough, but the escalating game of "who can be the most obnoxious to paying customers" was taken to yet another level this week.

For a while, Amazon managed to create a workaround that directed Echo Show users to the web version of YouTube, but Google/YouTube managed to find a way to block that too as of today. YouTube is also now informing owners of Amazon's Fire TV products that YouTube will no longer work on that hardware either, starting January 1. Needless to say, this is creating a broken experience on both hardware platforms, and customers are clearly annoyed:

In a statement, Google all but admits that the two companies are engaged in a giant game of jackass patty cake:

"​We’ve been trying to reach agreement with Amazon to give consumers access to each other's products and services. But Amazon doesn't carry Google products like Chromecast and Google Home, doesn't make Prime Video available for Google Cast users, and last month stopped selling some of Nest's latest products. 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."

There are numerous problems here. One being that none of this is really necessary, and that instead of settling their grievances like professionals, the two companies thought it would be a good idea instead to engage in an epic attempt at pettiness which harms openness, innovation, consumer trust, and the consumer experience. But this is also another example of how in the modern era, you don't really own the products you think you're buying, with companies more than happy to eliminate integral functionality at a moment's notice -- without much concern for the end user.

The dispute is so idiotic, it even prompted US Telecom, an AT&T-funded ISP lobbying organization, the opportunity to take a few pot shots at Google in a statement it circulated to the media yesterday:

"Broadband ISPs are committed to providing an open internet for their customers, including protections like no content blocking or throttling. Seems like some of the biggest internet companies can’t say the same. Ironic, isn’t it?"

When you're being trash-talked by what's currently the most-hated industry in America, you know you have a problem. Granted, US Telecom is engaged in some major conflations here. One, Google hasn't really clearly supported net neutrality since around 2010 or so, making this obnoxious, but not necessarily hypocrisy. Two, Amazon customers at least have the option to use other hardware, something you can't say about broadband subscribers, who usually only have access to one ISP at the FCC's 25 Mbps broadband definition threshold. This isn't a net neutrality violation, it's just stupid.

There really is no winner here. Google and Amazon could simply settle their differences like countless businesses do every hour of every day. Instead, they've decided that the best course of action was a downward spiral that punishes millions of consumers simply because the two companies' executives are unwilling behave like functional adults.


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  • icon
    aerinai (profile), 6 Dec 2017 @ 12:00pm

    Race to the bottom

    Get ready for cable company 'blackouts' on the Internet of Things. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

    I really think once we get this net neutrality thing solved 'once and for all'... which is probably never with the oscillating political theater we call our government... I'm sure there will be a Platform Neutrality law in the wings that works similar to FRAND patents... You can't just block someone's device just because you don't want them to use it... it's either open or closed... not open for some, blocked for some...

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    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 6 Dec 2017 @ 12:10pm

      Our oscillating government

      This actually is a really big issue (enough that it quickly gets off topic). One of the problems the US is having now with its extreme partisanship is that DNC heavy governments are disinclined to honor agreements and deals made by prior GOP governments and vice versa, hence no-one can trust the US government not to change its mind.

      Net Neutrality may, like Obamacare and LGBT rights, vacillate for a while until we find a mechanism to lock them down permanently.

      Heck, even Social Security and MediCare, both of which have been long established, are in jeopardy thanks to the instability of our government.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Dec 2017 @ 1:57pm

      Re: Race to the bottom

      > Get ready for cable company 'blackouts' on the Internet of Things

      That might be the first time cable companies do something beneficial for the world, albeit unintentionally.

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  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 6 Dec 2017 @ 12:06pm

    And so the customers suffer.

    It's incredible to me that neither of these companies can get enough neurons together to compute that their customers, not the competitors are the ones they need to serve.

    If Google allows Amazon products to show YouTube, the end users are happier and are watching more YouTube.

    If Amazon presents a good YouTube experience on their hardware, the end users will trust Amazon hardware more and continue to use Amazon. If they make a superior YouTube experience, they may use Amazon specifically for YouTube.

    For me, I'm inclined to avoid both Amazon and Google products in favor of parties that aren't visible targets in this fight.

    When companies make it too difficult to get to their content or fail to provide quality content without distasteful contingencies, it makes it so much more tempting to Hoist the Colors.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Dec 2017 @ 12:11pm

      Re: And so the customers suffer.

      "customers"?

      I think you misspelled "shareholders".

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2017 @ 12:06am

      Re: And so the customers suffer.

      Interesting argument. But let's apply it to other industries:
      - if you could (legally) access BD movies on Linux, you'd have more customers buying movies on BD,
      - if you allowed customers to repair their tractors, you'd have happier customers,
      - if you didn't block 3'rd party ink cartridges in your printers, you'd have better reputation,
      ...

      Apparently "the management" does not think this way - they just count the money, and in the short term. So customers should vote with their feet, but who's ready to give that all up?

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

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 12:31pm

        BD Movies on Linux

        I looked up BD movies and got mostly Bangladesh Movies dunno if you're referring to a streaming service like iTunes, Amazon Prime or YouTube Red.

        But we've encountered problems like repairs and accessibility before. This is how we invented warranties to and guarantees to assure that products will function like they're supposed to for a given length of time. Only in recent decades has it become customary to purchase a service contract separately, with products including only a short warranty.

        But In the 1960s, for example, a twenty year warranty came with your washing machine as a guarantee it would function for at least twenty years. So when your tablet starts with a one year warranty, the implication is that it will fall apart during the second year.

        The Management has ceased thinking this way, partially due to the rise of get-rich-quick business sense during the 80s ever since which investors expect values to only rise, and dividends to always be high, which drives their executives to push for short-term temporary gains rather than long-term stable gains. It also means execs tend to stay in one position for only short terms.

        In the new century, big companies are merging like crazy, competition is getting low, or even nonexistent, which means these companies can put out a shoddy product (and to Hell with customer satisfaction since where are they going to go?) This is how we have moisture meters in our iPhones that void our warranties and people getting dragged off United Airlines flights thanks to overbooking and privileged flyers.

        So customers can't always vote with their feet. But in some cases, like media and tractor repairs, they can go to pirates. And deservedly so: those who hate socialized goods and services should hate monopolized goods and services even more.

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        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 8 Dec 2017 @ 1:46am

          Re: BD Movies on Linux

          "I looked up BD movies and got mostly Bangladesh Movies"

          BD is a commonly used shorthand for Blu Ray Disc - i.e. if you see that, it means Blu Ray quality, or usually 1080p or higher, but lower than full 4K. Strange that it didn't come up at all on the Google search for you, but I'm pretty sure that's what the OP meant.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2017 @ 12:48am

          Re: BD Movies on Linux

          PaulT has already explained the BD. Other than that- I was merely reflecting on ineffectiveness of customer protests and a tight grip of advertisement, PR and greed on the public. The people's selfishness, 'divide and conquer' and economic power disparity seem to make it worse.

          Some may say 'free market will solve it'. First - it is not free, as the information flow is restricted. And second - no, by itself it won't. Not with a sorry state of customers organisations facing well funded and organised adversary. It needs regulation at least to protect it from itself - it is a measure of success for a company to become a monopoly, this is any company's aim.

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    • icon
      ShadowNinja (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 6:51am

      Re: And so the customers suffer.

      Really in a lot of ways it's a repeat of the bad old days of railroad companies that used to dominate.

      Railroad companies were constantly trying to undermine their competitors by PURPOSELY blocking the railroads they all shared. The people running the railroad companies thought if they can brag that their trains are on time more then their competitors it would make them more money. Trains were constantly delayed HOURS because of this.

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  • icon
    MDT (profile), 6 Dec 2017 @ 12:08pm

    Faulty Premise

    Your premise that two companies should be able to work things out like professionals has a faulty assumption.

    You assume you have two companies that are reasonable and actually want to work things out. If you have one company that is unreasonable or doesn't want to work things out, then there is no way to avoid this kind of thing.

    Amazon is the Jackass : If this is the case, then Amazon is selling their brand of equipment on their platform, and utilizing Youtube to boost their brand name and the desirability of their products without either selling competing components from Google or paying Google any benefits for the market benefit their getting for the Youtube content. They have no incentive to 'play nice' as they are getting everything their way, so they will not act reasonable or even try to work anything out until there is some negative consequence to doing so.

    Google is the Jackass : If this is the case, then Google is using their online streaming muscles to force their way into other markets. Since they have no products on Amazon's site, they have no incentive to 'play nice' or try to work things out, and so will just throw their weight around and make demands on Amazon until Amazon can find some leverage.

    Both of them are Jackasses to some degree : If this is the case, then both of the above are true to some extent, and which one is the bigger jackass really depends on so many variables we can't list them all here.

    No matter which it is, the idea that they should be able to fix this without the sort of thing is still faulty, because it assumes that both should be reasonable and willing to work with the other.

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  • icon
    Captain Beard (profile), 6 Dec 2017 @ 12:32pm

    From the Bullet-Meet-Foot dept

    I had been planning to replace my aging gen1 Chromecast. All of this is coming out at an opportune time for me, as it demonstrates who I should and should not make my purchase from.

    In case you're wondering, I said screw both of these jackass companies and sprung for a Roku. Hats off to both Google and Amazon for helping me narrow my choices significantly.

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  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 6 Dec 2017 @ 12:54pm

    I finally understand something about cloud-based voice recognition devices that's been bothering me: Why were home users first to adopt them? It's probably because large corporations predicted these sort of pissing matches.

    And so Google, Amazon and the CIA can hear everything I say at home, but McDonalds can't hear me say "No pickles" at the drive-through speaker.

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    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 1:06am

      Re:

      The Amazon Echo and Amazon Fire are 2 very different things. Although some Fire devices have Echo built in, many don't. A lot of the devices affected have nothing to do with voice recognition.

      "Why were home users first to adopt them?"

      Because they clearly have more novelty and home convenience appeal than actual business use cases.

      "And so Google, Amazon and the CIA can hear everything I say at home, but McDonalds can't hear me say "No pickles" at the drive-through speaker."

      That's probably more to do ambient noise than any conspiracy. Plus, a combination of older mics exposed to some degree to the elements and the barely interested teenager who's usually taking your order. In actual fact, they probably heard you, they just know it takes you zero effort to take the pickle out yourself when you get home and can't be bothered to pass your order on properly.

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      • icon
        JoeCool (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 7:59am

        Re: Re:

        It's true that consumers lead over (often conservative) companies in buying new-fangled devices. They're willing to take a chance on something that might help make their life better where a company is more concerned about the bottom line. Something has to be PROVEN to save money before companies will adopt it... most of the time.

        But as to why the drive-thru can't pick up your order, THAT is deliberate so that when they get your order wrong, and they almost always do, they can blame it on the intercom. I quit going through the drive-thru about the twentieth time they (multiple places in multiple cities) got my order wrong as opposed to the couple times they got it right. It's like Joe Pesci says in Lethal Weapon 2 - they f__k you at the drive-thru.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Dec 2017 @ 1:07pm

    "no longer supporting"

    Given this lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting YouTube on Echo Show and FireTV.

    Karl, you should've called them out on this lie too. Google is not "no longer supporting" YouTube on Amazon hardware, they're actively blocking it. It's not clear Amazon needed any support from Google, they were figuring this out on their own until they got blocked.

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

  • icon
    ArkieGuy (profile), 6 Dec 2017 @ 1:30pm

    Everyone wants to blame Google...

    I've been a Google Nexus Player and Chromecast owner and Amazon Prime customer for years. I've complained to Amazon about the lack of support to deaf ears.

    A few months ago Amazon went out of their way to make SURE you couldn't use Google products to view Amazon Prime Video. They even figured out how to block Prime video being cast to Chromecast using device SCREEN Casting (curiously enough, Amazon doesn't block commercials - just the "real" video).

    The "​we’ve been trying to reach agreement with Amazon" part sounds about right... Google has tried but Amazon isn't willing to negotiate, but people want to make Google into the bad guy here because they don't want to continue being screwed by Amazon.

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    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 6 Dec 2017 @ 2:06pm

      If Amazon Prime requires that I use Amazon hardware to access it...

      ...why would I want to purchase anything on Amazon Prime?

      Microsoft learned this the hard way with Zune. And if Amazon is going to play the same game, I'll have to soon create a link to an explanation for Prime as well.

      Sony refused to allow porn on Betamax. As a result, Beta died and VHS became the standard. We've seen this story play out dozens of times.

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      • icon
        MyNameHere (profile), 6 Dec 2017 @ 7:50pm

        Re: If Amazon Prime requires that I use Amazon hardware to access it...

        Amazon has something that Microsoft really didn't, which is the power of a marketplace already made for them. Amazon has worked to develop their prime service and have some unique programming not available on other services. You need either their hardware or to use their app to view it, an app which works on many / most modern smart TVs.

        Google and Amazon don't play nicely together. That isn't uncommon for two companies who's basic business models clash. They are fighting for your viewership and fighting to retain you as their viewer. Amazon doesn't want Google to profit from their efforts (essentially using Amazon prime as a selling point for Chromecast) and Google as a result won't let Amazon users see Youtube as a get back.

        Then again, I can't get certain models of disc brakes to install on my mountain bike unless I also change the hub to match the manufacture. Bastards.

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 6 Dec 2017 @ 10:26pm

          Re: Re: If Amazon Prime requires that I use Amazon hardware to access it...

          They are fighting for your viewership and fighting to retain you as their viewer.

          They should do so on the basis of their content. Getting into a techbro pissing match does neither company any favors.

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          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 1:13am

            Re: Re: Re: If Amazon Prime requires that I use Amazon hardware to access it...

            Better still - there will be a lot of people who both watch YouTube and subscribe to Prime. The people most likely to do this will be the people who choose to buy their hardware from Amazon, even if the hardware they choose is made by Google.

            In other words, these kinds of activity are pissing off people who already shop Amazon and subscribe to Prime. They gain little from it.

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        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 1:12am

          Re: Re: If Amazon Prime requires that I use Amazon hardware to access it...

          "Amazon has something that Microsoft really didn't, which is the power of a marketplace already made for them. "

          Microsoft *could* have had this too, they just destroyed any good will due to the horrendous state of their "Plays For Sure" DRM, and didn't make their Zune products compelling enough to an industry already dominated by Apple and moving away from DRMed downloads to non-DRM and streaming.

          "They are fighting for your viewership and fighting to retain you as their viewer."

          Which they could do by competing in other ways. This is just childish.

          "Then again, I can't get certain models of disc brakes to install on my mountain bike unless I also change the hub to match the manufacture. Bastards."

          Is that because of some unnecessary artificial restriction like the one described here, or something to do with the fundamental design of the brakes? There are good reasons and bad reasons for incompatibility, we're criticising the bad, totally unnecessary ones.

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          • identicon
            Thad, 7 Dec 2017 @ 7:11am

            Re: Re: Re: If Amazon Prime requires that I use Amazon hardware to access it...

            Microsoft could have had this too, they just destroyed any good will due to the horrendous state of their "Plays For Sure" DRM, and didn't make their Zune products compelling enough to an industry already dominated by Apple and moving away from DRMed downloads to non-DRM and streaming.

            I think Microsoft squandered most of the goodwill towards it well before 2006.

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            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 7:23am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: If Amazon Prime requires that I use Amazon hardware to access it...

              With the tech community, sure. Not necessarily with the mainstream, but they certainly noticed when they lost their music collection, that didn't run properly on every device like it should to begin with.

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  • identicon
    Bruce C., 6 Dec 2017 @ 2:04pm

    Hmmmm....

    So I bet we'll get the same thing between AT&T/Time Warner and Comcast/Universal/NBC once the net neutrality repeal goes through. All we need next is for ABC/Disney/ESPN, CBS and Fox to vertically integrate with other ISPs and the clusterfsck will begin - with the ISPs in the cluster and the consumers getting fscked.

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    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 6 Dec 2017 @ 2:09pm

      The post-Net-Neutrality snarl

      Six months later, the colors will be hoisted as far as the eye can see.

      I wonder what it would take to create a pirate internet server here in the middle of a Comcast monopoly region, provide free last-mile access to my apartment complex.

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  • identicon
    Bruce C., 6 Dec 2017 @ 2:24pm

    On another note...

    The main result of all this will be to push more users back onto Windows, whether on PC, tablet or whatever.

    Fortunately for me, I'm an old fogey, so all of my media goes through the computer. Apart from avoiding stray bullets in battles like this one (at least until Microsoft gets involved in one), it also saves having to monitor extra devices like smart TVs, phones and stuff for security updates - or more likely replacing them because a security flaw doesn't get patched.

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  • icon
    MyNameHere (profile), 6 Dec 2017 @ 3:07pm

    All the net neutrality in the world won't stop this stuff from happening either. You still end up with the same problems you fear, just further up the chain in places that the FCC cannot regulate.

    Congrats for fighting the wrong war!

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Dec 2017 @ 5:20pm

      Re:

      Removing net neutrality wouldn't stop piracy either, but thanks for painting net neutrality as some uber-piracy bogeyman like Richard Bennett did, only to later admit that net neutrality would never bring an era of uber-piracy that it promised... which he himself proposed.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Dec 2017 @ 7:22pm

      Re:

      "Techdirt released an article criticizing Google? ...Nah, screw that. Carry on with Directive 'Fuck You, Karl Bode! Neener Neener Neener!'"

      MyNameHere/horse with no name/Just Sayin', ladies and gentlemen!

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Dec 2017 @ 7:27pm

        Re: Re:

        And all we'd need is out_of_the_blue to bitch about Masnick not criticizing Google on an article that criticizes Google and wasn't written by Masnick, and the trifecta would be complete so they can writing pining love letters to Hamilton begging him to return...

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 6 Dec 2017 @ 10:32pm

      Re:

      All the net neutrality in the world won't stop this stuff from happening either.

      Nobody said it would.

      Congrats for fighting the wrong war!

      If the past sixteen years of American “intervention” in foreign lands has taught us anything, it is that we can fight multiple wars simultaneously. We can give our right arm for sensible encryption, our left leg for better ISP competition, and our soul for Network Neutrality—seems like an equivalent exchange to me.

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    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 1:37am

      Re:

      "All the net neutrality in the world won't stop this stuff from happening either."

      Nor will it stop spats between Burger King and McDonalds. Bravo, you're such an insightful little man.

      Do you have anything else completely irrelevant to net neutrality to bring up, or can the adults continue to discuss reality?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2017 @ 3:14am

      Re:

      Without net neutrality, wars about content will start with wars about which content providers your ISP lets you use.

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  • identicon
    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 6 Dec 2017 @ 3:36pm

    The Thing Is, Google Could Have Been So Much More Subtle About This ...

    Imagine: Google keeps allowing YouTube on these Amazon devices, but makes them work ever so slightly less reliably--just a little glitch here and there, intermittent failures to play properly, lose one’s place in a playlist, that sort of thing.

    When customers complain, don’t point any obvious blame, but drop a few hints that it is Amazon’s fault for creating inferior products. Amazon vigorously denies this, but it’s just one company’s word against another’s, right? So word gets around that YouTube works better on Google’s (and even Apple’s) hardware than Amazon’s. So the customers vote with their wallets, with the obvious result.

    Yes, a few customers still suffer moderate damage. But weigh that against the PR value of being at least superficially magnanimous in not engaging in an all-out tit-for-tat retaliation up front, and Google could have come out of this smelling, not exactly of roses, but at least of something not quite as bad as Amazon.

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    • identicon
      Thad, 6 Dec 2017 @ 4:26pm

      Re: The Thing Is, Google Could Have Been So Much More Subtle About This ...

      That sounds like it would have been a great way to get sued.

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      • identicon
        Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 6 Dec 2017 @ 4:58pm

        Re: That sounds like it would have been a great way to get sued.

        Why would that be considered worse than their current behaviour?

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        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 1:52am

          Re: Re: That sounds like it would have been a great way to get sued.

          Choosing not to allow a store to carry your product is somewhat different to deliberately supplying them with a defective product.

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          • identicon
            Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 7 Dec 2017 @ 1:32pm

            Re: ... deliberately supplying them with a defective product.

            Microsoft seems to have got away with that for years.

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        • identicon
          Thad, 7 Dec 2017 @ 7:14am

          Re: Re: That sounds like it would have been a great way to get sued.

          Why would that be considered worse than their current behaviour?

          Mainly because there are laws against fraud.

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          • identicon
            Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 8 Dec 2017 @ 3:22am

            Re: Mainly because there are laws against fraud.

            Why would it be fraud to deliver no more than what was promised?

            Have you checked the fine print in your EULAs lately?

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            • identicon
              Thad, 8 Dec 2017 @ 2:04pm

              Re: Re: Mainly because there are laws against fraud.

              Why would it be fraud to deliver no more than what was promised?

              I'm not sure what you're claiming "was promised"; you didn't mention any promises in your hypothetical.

              But if you intentionally degrade the way your service works with a competitor's product, and then imply that it's the competitor's fault, that's fraud.

              Have you checked the fine print in your EULAs lately?

              That sure seems like a non sequitur to me.

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    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 1:51am

      Re: The Thing Is, Google Could Have Been So Much More Subtle About This ...

      "So word gets around that YouTube works better on Google’s (and even Apple’s) hardware than Amazon’s. So the customers vote with their wallets, with the obvious result."

      Which "obvious result" are you referring to? They ditch their Fire TV and buy a Chromecast? That scenario only works if people value YouTube more than they value the hardware it's working on and/or they primarily use YouTube and not Prime Video, Twitch, Netflix, etc.

      I see what you're getting at, but I don't think YouTube performance is really a system seller on its own. It's actually more likely that people will just choose to use another device / their smart TV app to watch YouTube but Google loses revenue because the hassle makes them watch it less often than they did when everything was on the same device.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2017 @ 2:06am

      Re: The Thing Is, Google Could Have Been So Much More Subtle About This ...

      Or they could just inject ads across the lower quarter of all videos advertising the fact that there are no ads on chromecast.

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  • identicon
    Dave, 6 Dec 2017 @ 10:47pm

    *

    "Jackass pattycake"

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  • icon
    Jinxed (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 4:42am

    I'm going to ask for some help in understanding the overall issue, because I'm missing something.

    I don't have a problem with Amazon/Google blocking each others' services directly tied to devices, for example their personal assistants. Sure, it would be nice if choices were offered, but let's be real to say the purpose of selling some devices is to also promote the services behind them.

    In regard to Amazon Prime being used on other devices, this is controlled through software, not a device. For example, I can access both YouTube and Amazon Prime on my XBox console because apps, not hardware, gain access to the services.

    How is it Google has the right to block non-device specific platforms (notice I didn't say service) just because a retailer refuses to carry its products directly tied to Google services?

    Isn't this the black-and-white definition of anti-trust?

    Visiting the Google store, I see absolutely no offering of Amazon hardware tied to its services, either.

    I'm pretty sure retailers have the choice not to carry products it doesn't want to. Consumers may be upset, but it's not like they don't have a choice to go elsewhere to buy the product they want.

    This situation sets up a terrifying example of the limits of Net Neutrality.

    Sure, NN could help keep ISPs in line (once the FCC also abolishes Zero Rating), but none of this will make a damn bit of difference if corporations start blocking services *and* platforms over conditions consumers have zero control over.

    Buying a talking box and using company's service to run the box is one thing.

    Blocking unrelated platforms (aka apps, software, etc) requires the Dept of Justice to get involved since this is now anti-trust territory.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 7:22am

      Re:

      "In regard to Amazon Prime being used on other devices, this is controlled through software, not a device"

      So is YouTube access. Basically, all that's happening here is that applications identify themselves when visiting websites (for example, if you're using Firefox version X on Windows version X, then Firefox will give that information to the server before it start loading the page). To my knowledge, all that's happening here is that if the app says "I'm running on a Fire TV", YouTube will block them, and the official app will simply stop working. I presume there will be easy ways to route around this, but as most consumers will be using the YouTube app provided by Google via the Amazon app store, it's a moot point.

      "Isn't this the black-and-white definition of anti-trust?"

      I don't think so. If they were leveraging, say, their search platform to drive more sales to their retail site then that would be antitrust. I don't think there's anything to say they have to accept connections from competitors' devices. It's normally good business sense, but if Microsoft decided it needed to block Safari from microsoft.com for whatever reason it wouldn't be an antitrust move. Making it so that Safari was difficult to install or run poorly on Windows in order to drive Edge usage would be, but not what the do on the site's server end.

      "Visiting the Google store, I see absolutely no offering of Amazon hardware tied to its services, either."

      Why would a store that only sells Google products have anything to do with Amazon hardware? The Amazon store is a different case as they're a general purpose store, they just refuse to sell certain Google products.

      "This situation sets up a terrifying example of the limits of Net Neutrality."

      It provides an example of how far from consumer benefit companies can go and why NN is needed to ensure they can't do that with a monopolised basic utility. But, it's nothing to do with NN other than that vague parallel.

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

  • icon
    Mononymous Tim (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 9:49am

    Call me a sucker

    I ordered a Fire TV Stick on 11/27 (Cyber Monday) specifically for watching YouTube because Google's app for it is better than their own Chromecast, plus it has a remote. I received it on Tuesday, installed the YouTube app and got the notification. In the immortal words of Ralphie, Oh... FFFFUDGE!! So I get to wondering if Ars has an article about it, and sure enough, it was posted the same day.

    Thanks a lot Amazon and Google. You suck!!

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

  • icon
    Woadan (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 11:48am

    Just buy a Roku

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

    • identicon
      Thad, 7 Dec 2017 @ 1:45pm

      Re:

      Perhaps you don't understand the issue here.

      What this means is that Amazon or Google could easily choose to stop supporting Roku devices if they had a disagreement with Roku.

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

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 2:22pm

    Backlash already

    WaPo's review of Amazon Key is already raising the specter of bad faith by Amazon (and for massive service companies who are over eager to wall off their gardens).

    So hopes that companies soon come to their respective senses?

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

  • identicon
    mixi, 9 Dec 2017 @ 10:25am

    Amazon pulled their Twitch service from Roku. Message said no new installs.

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


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