Amazon to End Sales of Apple TV, Chromecast Streaming Devices

The move escalates Amazon's war to attract more users to its competing Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick devices by cutting out competitors. 

Apple TV, Google Chromecast, streaming TV, streaming video, Roku, Xbox, Sony PlayStation

Online retail giant reportedly will stop allowing the sale of Apple TV and Google Chromecast video streaming devices through its Website because the competing products don't offer access to Amazon's expanding video content to consumers.

Amazon apparently announced the move to its Amazon Marketplace sellers in an email that said that the devices would be dropped for sale because Apple TV and Chromecast don't "interact well" with Amazon's Prime Video services, according to an Oct. 1 report by Bloomberg. "No new listings for the products will be allowed and posting of existing inventory will be removed Oct. 29," Amazon told the marketplace sellers, according to the report.

Competing devices, such as Roku's set-top device, Microsoft's Xbox and Sony's PlayStation, are not affected by the move since they work with Amazon Prime Video, the story reported.

Asked about the Apple TV and Chromecast sales ban, an Amazon spokesperson told eWEEK in an email reply on Oct. 2: "Over the last three years, Prime Video has become an important part of Prime. It's important that the streaming media players we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion. Roku, Xbox, PlayStation and Fire TV are excellent choices."

The spokesperson declined to answer further questions about the move.

Rob Enderle, principal analyst for Enderle Group, told eWEEK that Amazon's decision to ban the competing devices is "ill-advised."

The underlying goal of Amazon's move is to try to force Apple and Google to pick up Amazon Prime Video as a service that they would include on their devices, which Google could do but Apple most likely won't, said Enderle.

The problem with the approach is that it causes a series of things that may backfire on Amazon, he said.

"When you are as big as Amazon, you don't want to start acting like a monopoly," said Enderle. "Because then you can get government regulators to pay attention, and once you get regulators to pay attention, then it's really hard to get them not to pay attention."

For retailers like Amazon and the rest, telling people what they can and can't buy is very dangerous, he said. "If you're not selling what people want to buy, then you're really working for a competitor. Customers will shop elsewhere, so it's not really good for a retailer to take this tact."

Instead, said Enderle, Amazon "should determine why people aren't buying more of their Fire TV products and fix that. You never want to force a service on anybody. Just because you can do something doesn't mean that you should."

In September, Amazon unveiled its newly revamped Fire TV devices and Fire tablets, and announced several new Fire devices, according to a recent eWEEK story. Among the announcements were a new $49.99 price for the 7-inch Fire tablet, the addition of a new 10.1-inch Fire HD 10 tablet and the debut of a new Fire TV Gaming Edition.

The new Amazon Fire TV devices boast 4K Ultra HD and support High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), which will be available for more Amazon videos in the coming months, according to the company. The device has 75 percent more processing power than the previous version and costs $99.99. It includes a MediaTek 64-bit quad-core processor, a dedicated GPU, 802.11ac WiFi, 8GB of on-device storage, Dolby audio, Mayday Screen Sharing and expandable storage up to 128GB. Fire TV will ship on Oct. 5.

A new Amazon Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote is available for preorder for $49.99, with shipping expected on Oct. 22. The latest Fire TV Stick gets a new voice remote, which allows users to speak the name of a movie, TV show, actor, director or genre to call up content. It can also be used to ask the Alexa personal digital assistant for weather, sports scores, traffic, music and other information.

The new Amazon Fire TV Gaming Edition includes the all-new Fire TV, the new Fire TV Game Controller, a 32 GB microSD card and two popular games—Shovel Knight and Disney's Ducktales—for a package price of $139.99. The gaming edition will start shipping on Oct. 5.