Amazon bans sale of Apple, Google streaming devices

October 5
1:27 AM 2015

Amazon is disallowing the sale of media-streaming devices from Apple and Google.

In an e-mail to its marketplace sellers, the Web retailer says that after October 29, it will no longer sell Apple TV's and Google Chromecasts. "It's important that the streaming media players we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion," said Amazon in the e-mail.

Amazon's Prime Video does not easily run on Apple's and Google's streaming devices.

"Amazon probably wants to teach Apple and Google a lesson about not making their devices more compatible," lawyer Allen Grunes told Bloomberg.

But streaming media analyst Dan Rayburn says there is no technical limitation to having Prime Video available on Apple TV and Google Chromecast. It's all a matter of code. "You never know in these instances how much the companies are forcing the blame on somebody else, where it might be an internal decision," Rayburn told Wired.

Amazon's move runs counter to its reputation as the "everything store," Jackdaw Research CEO Jan Dawson told Wired. "For all that Amazon is dressing this up as providing the best customer experience, it certainly looks like an anti-competitive move."

By reducing its selection of consumer electronics, Amazon is putting customers at the losing end. "Fewer than 20 percent of Amazon customers are Prime members," securities analyst Michael Pachter told Bloomberg. "What about the 80 percent who want an Apple TV to stream Netflix?"

Apple TV and Google Chromecast compete with Amazon's newly-revamped Fire TV and stick. Their next-generation versions are up for release.

"It's interesting that they do it right after a brand new Apple TV is announced. Right after new Chromecasts are announced. Right after they announce their own, upgraded Fire TV's and sticks," said Rayburn. "I find that a little suspicious."

Rayburn also said Amazon's reasoning about removing confusion in Prime streaming does not add up. "Why didn't you remove that confusion six months ago or a year ago?"

With such logic, Rayburn added, other TV's and tablets that do not support Prime streaming should also be removed from Amazon's digital store.

Amazon's purge does not include the market-leading set-top device from Roku. The online retailer will also continue to sell Microsoft's Xbox and Sony's PlayStation. All of them carry Amazon's video service.

This is not the first time that an online store has banned competing third-party products. About a year ago, Apple banned the sale of Bose headphone and stereo products after acquiring Beats.

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