Google and Amazon Go To War

The tensions between Amazon and Google have escalated in recent weeks as the two behemoths place the consumer in the middle of their ongoing feud over retail space. It began two years ago when Amazon stopped selling the very popular Chromecast just as the retailer was ramping up production on its Fire TV line of streaming devices in 2015. Google has been trying to negotiate with Amazon to resume sales on Chromecast and adding Chromecast Ultra as well as its Home and Home Mini devices that are direct competitors to Fire TV, Echo, and Echo Dot, respectively. Google began playing hardball three months ago when they pulled the YouTube app from Amazon’s new Echo Show (a sort-of tablet version of the Echo that can also double as a video phone of sorts). Amazon fired back by re-routing Echo Show users to the browser version of YouTube and quietly removing another Google-related device family from the online retailer, the Nest (owned by Google parent Alphabet). On December 5, YouTube announced that it would be discontinuing support for its service on both the Echo Show and the entire Fire TV line of streaming devices, effective January 1, 2018.

Amazon dominates the marketshare of the AI Personal Assistant category with both the Echo and Echo Dot, something that Google has been trying to take a solid bite out of with their Google Home and now Home Mini products by offering holiday promotions such as the Black Friday Home 2-pack priced at 50% off (essentially a Buy One, Get One Free deal), slashing the prices on Home Mini from $49 to $29 (Best Buy included a free $10 Best Buy Gift Card with purchase over the Black Friday weekend), a free Home Mini with purchase of select Nest products, and beefing up its TV ad campaigns.

Amazon is no stranger to controversial moves like this. In addition to removing Google’s Chromecast from its virtual shelves in 2015, it also stopped sales of Apple TV products at the same time, claiming both product lines were incompatible with Amazon Prime Video. The retailer has also played hardball with regards to physical media sales by blocking pre-ordering of DVDs and Blu-rays from studios such as Warner Brothers and Disney in attempts to negotiate better deals.

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Todd Erwin

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