Google Removes YouTube From Amazon Echo Show

YouTube is no longer available on Amazon Echo Show. Reddit, Slack groups and social media started to light up late Tuesday, September 26th around 3:00pm PST. Voicebot confirmed that the service no longer works by testing a device this evening. When asked to play a video on YouTube, Echo Show responds,  “Currently, Google is not supporting YouTube on Echo Show.” I wasn’t the only one to record the issue.

Amazon Confirms the Action by Google

Dieter Bohn from The Verge was able to get a comment from Amazon which confirmed that this was not a technical glitch and instead a good old fashioned business dispute.

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.

Google came back to suggest that there was more to this story. The comment below is also quoted from The Verge article.

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.

When Business Models Clash

The really interesting angle to this is that Amazon and Google are fierce rivals in the voice assistant battles. Amazon has a big lead with its Alexa voice assistant claiming more than 80% market share on smart speakers. Google Home today is a distant second. YouTube reports into Google under the Alphabet corporate structure.

It is not clear is that the Google team had anything to do with the action and it could simply be YouTube standing up for its rights to autoplay videos, suggest other videos and overall drive the advertising machinery. However, it is hard to believe that a division would take this type of public move against Amazon without the Google hierarchy being notified. The tech giants all cooperate to a certain degree while competing on many fronts. Every negative interaction can have a ripple effect impacting other business arrangements.

Of course, Google and Amazon appear to compete more than cooperate. Yes, they have competing smart speaker and voice assistant solutions. They also compete in cloud hosting, streaming music, online video, online shopping and increasingly in business services. Google doesn’t have an Echo Show competitor today so eroding a key feature of Amazon’s showpiece device may make it less desirable for consumers and keep sales volume down. This would offer Google more time to bring its own solution to market. Then again, most of these disputes tend to get sorted out after a big public airing of grievances.

Could This Spur Amazon to Take on YouTube with Twitch

No matter how it is resolved, people at Amazon must be thinking hard about more aggressively competing with YouTube. They did buy Twitch three years ago. The 45 million monthly active Twitch users represent only about 4.5% of YouTube’s audience, but it’s a start. And, AWS knows a bit about video streaming. The question is whether Amazon could build a large global user base without the benefit of a strong mobile platform. Interesting times.

Even if Amazon works things out with Google, expect there to be some delay in getting YouTube back on your Echo Show. The conflict will likely be resolved by Amazon agreeing to some concessions about compliance with YouTube terms of service. That means Amazon will have to reimplement the user experience for YouTube on Echo Show and it may be a complex undertaking. With Holiday shopping fast approaching, you can bet that Amazon will want to move quickly.

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