Tuesday 21 November 2017

Amazon and Google square off over YouTube

Amazon has claimed that its Echo Show devices can no longer play videos from YouTube because the site's parent, Google, has stopped supporting the service. Stock image
Amazon has claimed that its Echo Show devices can no longer play videos from YouTube because the site's parent, Google, has stopped supporting the service. Stock image

Jeffrey Dastin

IN a rare public feud between large technology companies, Amazon.com has claimed that its Echo Show devices can no longer play videos from YouTube because the site's parent, Google, has stopped supporting the service.

Amazon and Google square off in many areas, from cloud computing and online search to selling voice-controlled gadgets like the Echo Show.

In a statement, Amazon said: "As of this afternoon, Google has chosen to make YouTube no longer 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."

Google, which is owned by Alphabet, countered that the development was no surprise.

"We have been in negotiations with Amazon for a long time, working towards an agreement that provides great experiences for customers on both platforms," it said.

"Amazon's implementation of YouTube on the Echo Show violates our terms of service, creating a broken user experience. We hope to be able to reach an agreement and resolve these issues soon."

The Echo Show had displayed YouTube videos without integral features, from video recommendations to channel subscriptions.

Google had a similar dispute with Microsoft in the past.

It was not clear how many customers were affected.

Amazon only started selling the Echo Show in June. It comes with a touchscreen and responds by voice command.

Amazon's suite of Echo devices, including the Echo and Echo Dot, has outsold the voice-controlled Google Home, according to research firm eMarketer.

Amazon has ambitions to make it normal for people to control computers by voice and to place orders for its online retail business by voice too.

"It's a bit of a blow to Amazon," said analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research.

"YouTube is one of the big video services that they had in addition to their own.

"For that to disappear means a big chunk of the possible video content you could watch on Echo Show is now gone."

The Verge, a technology-news website, first reported the latest development.

Among recent tech stand-offs, Amazon stopped selling Apple's TV players in 2015 because they did not support its Prime Video service. The two giants finally reached an agreement earlier this year.

"Things get harder for end users because these companies can't get along," Dawson said.

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