Google and Amazon are in a nasty war and the biggest victims will be the consumers. The two powerful tech companies are in the middle of a standoff concerning the sale of Google/Android based products on the nation’s largest online retailer and it is about to get personal to those who use the Amazon Fire TV products.
Google will be pulling YouTube from the Fire TV in a move that feels like a big step backward for consumers who have shown a great love for YouTube’s short form and viral content making it the most utilized streaming media solution beating out even Netflix for bandwidth use.
This would not be the first time a major streaming device was without YouTube. In Roku’s early days the device did not support an official YouTube app forcing users to utilize third-party workarounds in order to access their YouTube accounts. Plex’s YouTube channel, as well as a clever app called Video Buzz, gave users access to the service along an early WiDi like service called Twonky.
The difference between YouTube being pulled from Fire TV and its early absence on Roku products is that Roku was a company on the rise in a field, set-top streaming, that was in its infancy. It was one of a number of products on the market including a long list of forgotten offerings as well as Apple TV that offered fledgling streaming options and of course, Netflix. As the company’s reach grew it began to offer an official YouTube channel and that chapter was closed. If YouTube pulls off of the Fire TV in a retaliatory strike aimed at a popular device in an established market there will be much bigger stakes. Any comparison between Roku and Amazon products will almost certainly include a critique along the lines of “The Fire TV has a lot of options but is missing YouTube”. It will further cement Roku’s place in the market as the platform that works to get along with everybody as it offers Amazon Prime, and Google Play as on-demand choices. The irony for Amazon is that a cheap fix for this kind of issue would be to install a Chromecast alongside a Fire TV in order to give users access to both the Fire TV Interface and YouTube on the TV. It could inadvertently lead to more sales of Chromecast devices by Fire TV owners.
The market now includes Roku with its 5 offerings, Apple TV and its 3 versions (until the last generation box sell out) Numerous Android TV-powered boxes from different companies including Dish and Nvidia, as well as the still popular Chromecast, which acts as a go-between with wifi connected devices and televisions.