Users of Amazon's Fire TV may soon be unable to view YouTube content from their device as a result of an escalating business battle between Amazon and Google.
Google has said that starting Jan. 1, it will block people using Amazon's digital media player from directly accessing and viewing YouTube videos. Fire TV users attempting to access YouTube are currently being served messages informing them about the planned move. Google has already started blocking YouTube access to people using Echo Show, Amazon's new smart speaker with an integrated display.
Google is taking the action in response to what it says is Amazon's recent behavior in relation to Google's products and services. The immediate impetus appears to have been a recent decision by Amazon to stop selling products from Nest Labs, a Google subsidiary that makes a range of smart home products. But the search giant is also miffed at Amazon's treatment of several other Google technologies.
“We’ve been trying to reach agreement with Amazon to give consumers access to each other's products and services," a Google spokesman said in emailed comments to eWEEK, Dec. 6. "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."
As the result of this lack of reciprocity Google has decided it will no longer allow access to YouTube from Fire TV and Echo Show units, Google said. "We hope we can reach an agreement to resolve these issues soon."
An Amazon spokesman did not provide any light on the reasons for the company's allegedly shoddy treatment of Google's products. In an emailed statement, the company merely expressed disapproval of Google's plans and said it was working on resolving the issue.
"Echo Show and Fire TV now display a standard web view of YouTube.com and point customers directly to YouTube’s existing website," Amazon said. "Google is setting a disappointing precedent by selectively blocking customer access to an open website. We hope to resolve this with Google as soon as possible."
The spat between the two largest Internet companies—both of whom have a near monopolistic presence in their respective segments—is not sitting well with users caught in the cross fire.
Some Twitter users Wednesday were quick to characterize the tit-for-tat actions by the two companies as a display of childish petulance that only hurts consumers. "Come on @AmazonUK & @Google," Twitter user Neil James said. "You're behaving like children, it's time to sort your s*** out and stop punishing YOUR CUSTOMERS".
"Great work at ruining the experience of YouTube on FireTV," Twitter user Dominique said. "Sort out your differences and put the customer first."
The Google and Amazon dispute over YouTube highlights the tensions stemming from the growing business rivalry between the two companies recently. With the enormous success Amazon's web retailing business getting to a point it's has begun to push many brick and mortar organizations out of business altogether, Google has begun collaborating with some of them to counter the trend.
Google for instance has entered into partnerships with retailing giants such as Walmart and Target to enable consumers to buy tens of thousands of products from both retailers using voice commands via the Google Express service.
Such moves could exacerbate the tensions between the two companies and trigger more actions like the one to block YouTube.