Given Google’s antitrust issues in Europe, one would have thought the company would be more careful about exercising its monopoly powers, but a new tiff with Amazon around the Amazon Echo Show shows the company remains as subtle as a bull in a china shop.
Last night YouTube videos stopped working on the Echo Show, with the message “Currently, Google is not supporting YouTube on the Echo Show.” According to Amazon:
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 decision is reminiscent of Google’s decision to block YouTube on Windows Phone, and for the Echo Show may be nearly as impactful, as it removes one of the main reasons to have a screen on your digital assistant.
As a reminder then Microsoft said:
Despite government scrutiny, Google continues to block Microsoft from offering its customers proper access to YouTube. This is an important issue because consumers value YouTube access on their phone: YouTube apps on the Android and Apple platforms were two of the most downloaded mobile applications in 2012, according to recent news reports. Yet Google still refuses to allow Windows Phone users to have the same access to YouTube that Android and Apple customers enjoy. Microsoft has continued to engage with YouTube personnel over the past two years to remedy this problem for consumers. As you might expect, it appears that YouTube itself would like all customers on Windows Phone as on any other device to have a great YouTube experience. But just last month we learned from YouTube that senior executives at Google told them not to enable a first-class YouTube experience on Windows Phones.
Google, in turn, claims that Amazon’s implementation breaches YouTube’s terms of service, a statement which should be chillingly familiar to long-time Windows Phone owners from when Google blocked the app on the OS. They say:
We’ve been in negotiations with Amazon for a long time, working towards an agreement that provides great experiences for customers on both platforms. 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.
Of course, Amazon is not a light-weight company, but when it comes to online video they can simply not compete with YouTube’s vast library. Hopefully, Google’s rampant anti-competitive actions can be adequately reigned in, if not by US competition authorities by the more diligent European Commission.