Google Lashes Out at Amazon by Blocking YouTube

A fight between two of the world’s biggest tech companies, Amazon and Google, just got nastier. It’s unclear who will win in the end, but one thing is clear—consumers will lose.

The bad news comes via Variety, which reports that Google is cutting off Amazon’s access to the popular YouTube app on the Echo Show speaker device and, starting in January, on the Amazon Fire Stick as well.

For millions of consumers, this means Amazon devices that they bought and that once played YouTube will no longer do so, forcing them to buy another streaming device—such as Roku or Google’s Chromecast—if they want to watch the video service.

Google’s decision amounts to the latest in a tit-for-tat war as the companies battle for consumers’ attention. In a statement to Variety, a Google spokesperson lashed out at Amazon for, among other things, not selling Google products.

“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 [Google-owned] Nest’s latest products,” said the spokesperson. “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.”

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The telecom industry, meanwhile, quickly pounced on the dispute over YouTube as evidence the tech giants were violating the spirit of net neutrality—the principle that distributors of Internet content shouldn’t favor some websites over others.

“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?” said the CEO of USTelecom, Jonathan Spalter.

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If the fight between Amazon and Google is not resolved, it raises the prospect consumers will be forced into purchasing a growing number of competing devices to access online services they could once access through one device.

The Amazon-YouTube fight is also reminiscent of TV industry disputes over carriage fees—in which cable companies stop carrying popular channels—and reflects how the companies that once sought to disrupt media monopolists are turning into them instead.

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