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Amazon Will Ban Sale of Apple, Google Video-Streaming Devices (bloomberg.com)
716 points by coloneltcb on Oct 1, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 529 comments



I don't think this move is in Amazon's best interests long term. Their competitive edge with Prime is that I go to them first because I assume they'll have what I want, at a fair price and the highest level of convenience.

If they are no longer the "Everything Store" then they won't be where I go to for everything...


Totally agree. They are destroying their most valuable component of their brand, for a relatively weak one (Prime Video).

I have Prime and prefer Netflix, because Prime Video still doesn't have a great selection.


> They are destroying their most valuable component of their brand, for a relatively weak one (Prime Video).

This is why it almost seems like Amazon's Google+ moment: one underperforming product area somehow manages to convince leadership to change the company's underlying principles in its advantage to the long-term detriment of overall brand perception.

Edit: 32 points in 19 mins for this comment. I really hope someone from Amazon is reading.


That's an interesting point. When Google started pushing G+ social networks in general was all the tech media were talking about. Now it's the death of cable and the rise of streaming services. And just like Google wanted it's piece of the buzz-worthy social media space, Amazon wants a piece of the growing streaming market.

It's certainly not a good precedent to set banning competitor's products from their store. I could come up with a dozen different slippery-slope scenarios.


It's slightly different in that selling media was originally Amazons core business. First books, then DVDs, then Kindle.

Streaming (music or TV) is just a new distribution and pricing mechanism for the same product. For Google, social media is a fundamentally different product to search. You can argue that they are both ways of 'finding things' but there are still huge fundamental differences.


‘Search’ isn't a product by Google, user impressions are.


Not to mention that it's completely Amazon's decision not to offer streaming apps for AppleTV or Android in general release. Do they really make that much on their hardware that they're willing to continue alienating most of their customers?


So they offer it for game consoles, "smart" TVs, Roku, and handheld devices of all sorts… but not Apple TV or Chromecast? And that's by their choice, not Apple or Google's? Huh.


They don't offer it for Android at all (even though their own fire devices are based on it), and I'm guessing they opted out of AppleTV (since iirc, they offer it for iOS devices)


G+ is vestigial at best and creepy at worst, but at least there's something to be said about a giant sprawling octopus of a tech company managing to wrap everything into one, centralized platform.

Amazon on the other hand seems to be subscribing to the amputation school of thought. I don't know a soul that's ever bought an Amazon gadget that wasn't exclusively named "Kindle." If people truly preferred Amazon's devices to those from Apple or Google, they would have bought them.


I'm one of those souls, and really like both the Kindle Fire and Fire TV I have. This move has really soured them to me though - Amazon have a great product in Prime Video and their Fire lineup, a product which doesn't need these sort of shady tactics.


I'm interested in why you consider it shady for a retailer not to sell a product. I don't see Google or Apple selling products from anyone but themselves (mostly. Apple does sell a few accessories and Google has some pure editions which they have a hand in). Pick any retailer, and there are brands and products they don't sell.

I could see it being shady if you were talking about denying people access to things they need, but we're talking about selling on the Internet here. It's not like people will have a hard time buying Apple TVs or Chromecasts because they aren't on Amazon. They just have to type the name into their address bar.

I would guess they got a lot of complaints from people who said they couldn't get Instant Video to work on their streaming devices, someone calculated the cost of customer service vs profits of selling those devices, and decided it wasn't worth it... how is that any different form any other retailer choosing to drop a product because it isn't working for them? Customer service costs and returns are probably the most common reason for anyone dropping something.

I know Amazon has a bigger selection than pretty much everyone, but does that give them a moral imperative to not discriminate on products? Seems like people are considering Amazon as if they were a public utility, which seems like a pretty impressive achievement for them.


>I'm interested in why you consider it shady for a retailer not to sell a product. I don't see Google or Apple selling products from anyone but themselves (mostly. Apple does sell a few accessories and Google has some pure editions which they have a hand in). Pick any retailer, and there are brands and products they don't sell.

That's because google and apple aren't the Walmart of the internet, they make electronics. Amazon specializes in selling stuff, google and apple make stuff and also happen to sell them on their website, or you could buy it from somewhere else (in google's case)


> I'm interested in why you consider it shady for a retailer not to sell a product. I don't see Google or Apple selling products from anyone but themselves (mostly. Apple does sell a few accessories and Google has some pure editions which they have a hand in). Pick any retailer, and there are brands and products they don't sell.

I think the equivalent for Google would be deliberately not listing duckduckgo or bing in search results for "duck duck go" or "bing".


But as an Apple user, I already know they are hypocritical control freaks who don't respect their users.

But this is literally the first time that I've seen Amazon play that way. So it may not be different from any other retailer, it's different from how Amazon used to be. (Or at least was perceived to be, which amounts to the same thing.)


Are you familiar with Primecast? A third party reversed how Amazon authenticated its movies and for a day, you could actually cast the movies that your Prime subscription allowed, including rentals. It was no different than if you authenticated on the website. Amazon quickly scrambled to shut that app down and still hasn't answered with their own method for Chromecast. It isn't even a technical issue, it is a control issue.

Now I don't know the licensing terms they have with the content providers, but they certainly aren't fulfilling the consumer demand.


No, I wasn't familiar with that. Still, the present issue seems one step worse than that.

Digital music sold used to have DRM, because it just couldn't be avoided since the licensing terms of the content required it. The Primecast seems likely to be the same.

It's more like them saying, "Sorry, user, we can't let you do that."

Where as this (and what Apple does) is more like, "What's that user? You want <competing thing>? Well, fuck off!"

Thinking on it though, massively slowing down deliveries of books from publishers Amazon doesn't like was actually the first time I've seen Amazon do something like this. So this actually isn't the first time; now its a pattern.

Side rant: Amazon Prime's media crap is also especially annoying to me personally, since I spend most of the year outside of the US, where it doesn't work at all. (Go Netflix!))


I consider it an issue of confidence in a product to also sell the competitors' versions. It's one of those things that makes Amazon a great company. I hope they rescind the ban.


Amazon have pitched themselves as a place to buy "anything" (with varying definitions of anything, granted). Apple and Google have never pretended that's what they were.


The analogue would be Google not showing Facebook pages in their search results. Google has pitched themselves as the place to find anything on the web.

(But it's perfectly fine for Amazon's search to only show Amazon stuff, because universal search is not part of their claim.)


The particular thing I find shady is their reasoning for it, that they don't want to sell devices that won't work with Prime Video. That's all very well, but the reason they don't work is because Amazon haven't put the effort in to make it work - there's nothing preventing them from adding Chromecast support, and I doubt Apple would reject support for Apple TV.


Ditto, though here's the problem with amazon: buying apple stuff on there is a shit experience.

Go there right now and type macbook pro in the search. You'll get a page of results with these top results:

   Apple MacBook Pro MF839LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop with Retina Display (128 GB) NEWEST VERSION
   Apple MacBook Pro MD101LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop
   Apple MacBook Pro MJLQ2LL/A 15.4-Inch Laptop with Retina Display (NEWEST VERSION)
   Apple MacBook Pro MB990LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop
   Apple MacBook Pro MJLT2LL/A 15.4-Inch Laptop with Retina Display (NEWEST VERSION)
As a consumer, how the hell am I supposed to know what those are? I see a bunch of sellers called their listings "NEWEST VERSION" but is that true? What the fuck is a MF839LL/A?

The whole thing is a mess.

But yeah, I bought prime 4 years ago and amazon became my one stop shop for everything. This is their threat to google's business of taxing ecommerce via owning discovery. Amazon wins if search starts there and skips google; excluding items from prime dilutes that value.

But let's be honest: this is obviously amazon leveraging their ecommerce power to force apple to build amazon prime video into apple tv.


I feel like this is actually a potentially serious problem for Amazon, and it's getting worse.

The other day I went to buy a pair of standard issue Apple headphones. The same exact ones that come with the iPhone. Yeah they are slightly overpriced but I am really used to them and they sound good and my pair was getting ratty and I wanted another one.

It was literally impossible to do. Try it and see what I mean. I see "Original OEM iPhone Earbuds with Mac and Volume Control" as the first result, for $4.94. As a non-clueless person I know those definitely aren't real. But are the results for $24.99 or $29.99 real? It's really just impossible to be sure, you can look for "Sold by Amazon" itself but even that can be ambiguous. The day I went to do it I literally could not. I gave up and went to apple.com where it took 30 seconds.

That's not an uncommon experience. I typically buy Apple stuff from the Apple online store, or from B&H, as a rule, because this is such a problem. And I'm noticing it more and more with other products, things like USB hubs or IP Cameras and the like.

My default has always been to buy almost everything I can from Amazon as the first preference, but it's getting harder and harder to do in entire categories of products. I hope someone there is paying attention to this problem, it's real.


I have this experience probably about half the time I'm shopping on Amazon (which I do a lot of). If you look in the comments/reviews for many items there will be dozens of people saying e.g. "product shipped was not the product pictured", "only buy if the seller is so-and-so if you want a genuine product", "received a used/returned product", and on and on. I've taken to spending more and going out of my way to buy some things in retail stores, where I can at least be reasonably sure I'm not getting a counterfeit.


yes. I've felt this way lately. The overall quality of Amazon has gone downhill sharply. It's resembling eBay or even Craigslist today. I was considering getting Prime a few days back when it was on sale. But I remembered that the majority of things I buy today aren't shipped by Amazon even. Never mind their whole "Prime day" fiasco (which Amazon never owned up to).

From an ethical standpoint, I'm also starting to wonder if Bezos is one of the most unhinged, corrupt people on this planet. Stories from their top tech employees down to their warehouse workers have been nothing short of horrifying.


Also true with non Apple products eg Samsung accessories are all fake on Amazon.


It's a big problem when you know exactly what you want but can't find it because of all of the noise.


AFAICT, that problem is general to buying anything through Amazon except things sold directly by Amazon.


Yeah, it's becoming annoying. Batteries are more likely fake/offbrand than not, even when the ad claims otherwise, and last at best 3 months instead of 24 in my car's key fob. I got frustrated and eventually bought them at a local hardware store. Replacement chargers are chinese imitation shit. I've had an increasing number of purchases that don't match their descriptions. Amazon has been very good about it, and always refunds my money, but I'm still left without the plant mite spray or battery or whatever that I needed in the first place, so that only helps so much. I would have thought amazon would be working to get a handle on this but maybe their analytics tell them it doesn't matter.


Yeah I've bought bad batteries from Amazon (they were recharged AAs being sold as new), of course from a third-part seller.

Amazon doesn't care; thousands of people complain, and they keep letting it happen.

Amazon Subprime.


Bought some LED kitchen track lights on amazon that uniformly burned out in < 2 months


Yes me too. Never thought to blame Amazon. Do you have a recommendation for a more quality product?


Honestly I'm not sure stuff sold directly by Amazon is an exception.


But at least you'll be able to return it without hassle if it's not right


That's not the point. Who cares if it's expensive or confusing. They are banning products that are competing with their own products.

Amazon is simply a store for majority of the people who shop there.

If Google banned Amazon from search results you would probably be outraged.


Based on the news article, Amazon isn't banning competitors. Roku competes with Fire TV, and the Netflix app it bundles competes with Prime Video. The article says Amazon will still sell Roku. Indeed, Amazon's Fire TV also supports Netflix and Hulu and HBO and ESPN and whatnot, not just Amazon Video.

The news article says that they're banning video streaming devices that don't support Amazon Video. So if that's true, it's not that they're banning competitors, but that they're forcing streaming devices sold on Amazon to support Amazon Video in addition to whatever else they support.

I don't know what the primary motivation is, but I could genuinely see some customers being confused. Imagine you're a customer that's just signed up for Prime. You don't have a TV stick to watch it on, so you shop around the store and find a streaming device that's highly reviewed. You buy it and plug it in, only to find that Amazon Video does not work on it, or works poorly. This is plausible; this kind of thing happens, especially with unsophisticated, less computer savvy buyers (the kind of people who think the Google search box is the Internet). I could easily see my parents making this kind of mistake.

Whether that's the primary motivation, I wouldn't know. It seems like you could also deal with that problem by changing the way the product is displayed, for people who have Prime Video, and show a big warning like "This product does not support Prime Video" on the side so they can't overlook that fact when buying it. (Though this could lead to other complications - I could imagine there being weird legal or anti-competitive issues with making claims like that about competitors' products in a way that they can't control, that's not part of the product description. Banning them might be the simplest way.)


> The news article says that they're banning video streaming devices that don't support Amazon Video.

The only reason the devices don't support Amazon Video is because Amazon has chosen not to build apps that support those devices.


But you need to go deeper. Amazon hasn't built apps that support those devices because those devices manufacturers want a cut of their profits off of subscriptions or rentals because those device manufacturers (Google / Apple) want people to use their own services instead.


That's only for in-app subscription purchases. You didn't think Apple was getting a 30% cut off Prime video subscriptions just because there's an iPad app, right? Or Netflix for that matter.

This is a problem entirely of Amazon's making. And I don't understand it. No one makes money on the devices, they make money on the subscriptions. It's in their best interests to be on as many devices as possible.


Or because they don’t support the specific DRM system used?


If it were the primary motivation to avoid confusing Prime members they could easily just add a bold description field: DOES NOT SUPPORT AMAZON VIDEO. They could also just drop it from Prime-eligible rather than drop it from the store entirely. Many Prime members filter things by Prime-eligible (for many different reasons) and that would possibly be more effective than dropping it entirely.


Google is a monopoly or near monopoly in search. Amazon is not a monopoly or near monopoly in general ecommerce (excluding ebooks.) Seeing as amazon is not a (near) monopoly in general ecommerce, I can't be bothered to care. If you don't like amazon's policies, patronize walmart, target, newegg, apple.com directly, or a dozen other competitors. I personally think amazon is wildly overestimating their ability to extract concessions from apple.


A couple more Amazon problems:

They obviously treat their vendors like red-headed stepchildren; they know they have to be on Amazon to make sales, but the margins have to be tiny. Ever notice how when you order something from an Amazon "partner", the tracking information is magically worse than worthless? And of course, if you have a problem they'll correct it immediately at their own cost, because Amazon threatens to turn off the sales faucet if they don't make the Amazon Experience pleasant for the consumer.

Don't get me wrong, I still shop there. Particularly for electronics -- 3% cashback on my Amazon card is nothing to shake a stick at.

But it's feeling worse and worse to do so.


This is half Amazon's problem, and half Apple's problem for not giving their computer models unique names. Type iPhone 6s and you get much more clear results.


No, it's that these listings on Amazon are kind-of-like "eBay" just without the auctioning part. The seller can write whatever he wants. Amazon just evaluates the complaints of the buyers.


There is a standard naming convention with Apple products though that they and everyone else uses:

MacBook Pro (mid-2015)


GradeAUnderA brought out some really good points https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_osrpU9UWrc


This is more about Roku vs Google & Apple than Amazon vs Google & Apple. Roku has been the market leader by far up until 2015.

One problem is that Amazon is now inviting consumers to open a direct relationship with Google or Apple. If a user makes a purchase of an Apple TV or Chromecast directly, Google or Apple now know exactly who they are.

Generally speaking, making it hard or cutting off sales channels for specific products can work to divert sales. Big retailers do it. However, if it is a product the consumer really, really wants they are going to jump through the loopholes to get it. I imagine Apple TV will eventually fall under that category.

Alternatives? Let Apple TV and Chromecast continue to be sold but place large warning messages and suggest buying a Roku or Amazon whatever device instead.


I have a Roku, and I bought it for the exact reason that they don't (at least from what I can tell) have their own streaming service. I wanted a device where the makers have a direct stake in making the best experience for all streaming services possible, and there are no second class citizens.

I didn't want a device coming from a company participating in multi-sided markets. It just ends up with an internal conflict of interest and it's always not clear to the customer what side is the win.


Roku was spun off from a Netflix project:

http://www.fastcompany.com/3004709/inside-netflixs-project-g...


While I agree (and own a Roku myself) I'm concerned that the end game here is all the content owners removing their stuff from Roku and forcing us to buy a dozen HDMI sticks.


If I understand the news article correctly, streaming video players will be allowed as long as they support Amazon Video too. If that's a correct understanding, then it implies that Amazon would sell Chromecast or Apple TV again if those companies add support for Prime Video.

I could be wrong though - this is based on the limited info in the article.


Amazon claims it's removing Apple TV and Chromecast because they don't support Amazon Video... but Amazon was the one who decided not to support Apple TV and Chromecast in the first place.

Chromecast and Apple TV are more than popular enough to warrant app support, so it can't be a question of platform marketshare, either. (Chromecast support is so simple that the idea Amazon can't do it is laughable.) Android TV is not as popular, but Amazon already has an Android TV app, except it's restricted to Sony TVs: http://www.androidpolice.com/2015/05/16/amazon-disables-the-...

This is not a retaliation. Amazon's suggestion that this is Apple or Google's fault is simply false.


Chromecast support is not really simple, considering Amazon probably uses a different DRM system than the one Google implemented.


But for a day you could use Primecast. Amazon deliberately disabled that, so there isn't a technical reason they couldn't have resolved it.


That's what I thought it sounded like too, which made me think of the strange part - as far as I know, any Android app provider can make their video app Chromecast-compatible. It's up to the app provider, not Google. Amazon already has a Amazon Video Android app, which last I checked, they only provide over their proprietary app store. So it's up to them to make Prime Video work on Chromecast, they just have to put their Video app on the Play store, and set it up to Cast.


Great point. Don't they also earn money from each AppleTV and Chromecast sold through Amazon? Unless they were doing it at a 0 gain seems stupid not to profit from sales of competing products. They must really be banking on the increase in Prime sales making up that difference.


Perhaps they were relying on cross-selling purely on these products.


This is a really good point.

One difference here is that Amazon can quietly go back on their decision if it doesn't work and they see people aren't viewing the Apple TV, Chromecast and Fire as substitutes- since it is just a few listings.

Google integrated everything with Google+ the vestiges are still all around.


Sort of, except Amazon loses some cred with everyone who tried to buy it from them during that time, and from press like this story where now I'll be a little hesitant to check Amazon first for Apple products in general (because who knows where else they're trying to compete). Which is a terrible impression to give.


For example, it still isn't possible to create a YouTube channel without Google Plus.


Get over it already, single signon is here to stay a n d it is (now) easy to create a bunch of different "pages"-identities that are hard to trace back to your main account.

Or am I wrong?


Here is what I am referring to:

>> So in the coming months, a Google Account will be all you’ll need to share content, communicate with contacts, create a YouTube channel and more, all across Google. YouTube will be one of the first products to make this change, and you can learn more on their blog. As always, your underlying Google Account won’t be searchable or followable, unlike public Google+ profiles. And for people who already created Google+ profiles but don’t plan to use Google+ itself, we’ll offer better options for managing and removing those public profiles.

https://googleblog.blogspot.com/2015/07/everything-in-its-ri...

This was published on July 27, 2015


Honestly, Amazon seems like they're in a bit of a panic to get into digital consumption. This is slightly reminiscent of Fire Phone.


I was just thinking about how they have buried a great product, google hangouts, inside a me too product, google+, and neglected it bc it doesn't have a business model attached. What a waste! Hangouts is much better and more reliable than Skype, but very difficult to find and sign up for. All it needs is its a stage of its own and a business model and it could destroy Skype, which needs to be destroyed imho. Combined with some business features it could rule the meeting room worldwide, then expand into consumer from there.


http://hangouts.google.com no longer requires a G+ account.


Of course each iteration of hangouts/voice/contact makes it harder to send an SMS message to someone in your contacts... you now have to type in the number, and if you happen to do it on your android phone from a contact, it tries to send an advite to use hangouts... It's really annoying as a fan of Voice/GrandCentral for years.


Actually, no. This seems more like when Apple stopped allowing Kindle books to be sold through an iPhone: http://www.businessinsider.com/why-you-cant-buy-kindle-books...


Wasn't that because Apple wants 30% off all sales? Microsoft had a similar clash with Apple over Office for iOS. The apps were free, but if you wanted to buy a license to use them, you would have to purchase that license directly from Microsoft because Apple wanted a slice of the upsell. This would have added a 30% tax on top of the universal service fee Microsoft was selling, even if it was just a link to the website from within the apps. I don't know how that was finally resolved, but this is just how Apple conducts business.


Not sure why i got downvoted without an explanation. Must be some annoyed Apple fanboy.


Well, a notable difference is that the only party preventing Amazon from streaming to Chromecasts is Amazon.


That's precisely what it is.

Hey, maybe we know where Vic Gundotra went!


I also have Prime but wish I could display it on our TV using Chromecast. The only way to do this is to cast a tab (desktop) or cast the entire device display (Android). It would be great if Amazon Prime Video supported Chromecast with a cast button like Hulu, Netflix, Youtube, Vevo, etc...


My wife was just complaining about this very thing. The solution to Prime's streaming issues isn't to ban the sale of Chromecasts it's to add Chromecast support to prime.

This is a very odd choice on their part.


Hell, until recently, you couldn't play Prime Video on Android at all without resorting to Flash trickery in the browser. (But, of course, you could play it on Fire OS devices, even though they're running a fork of Android.)

Amazon really does not like Google. This is not a failure on Google's part, this is all of Amazon's own making in an attempt at product lock-in.


...I had Prime Video working on my Android phone a while back, but it no longer works.

Is there a new, new way to get it to work that I don't know about?


Install the Amazon app, but not the Amazon app from Google Play, the sideloaded one directly from their site, and then do a bunch of convoluted stuff to install the Prime Video player within that app.


It's been a couple of weeks since I did it, but I got it working on my nVidia Shield TV, and I remember the process being something like:

1) Sideload Amazon app APK 2) Sideload Amazon Video app APK 3) Open Amazon app and log in 4) Open Amazon Video app

However, it wasn't a pleasant experience. The version of the Amazon Video app I was able to get working didn't scale well to large screens, didn't work well with remote-based navigation, and didn't seem to do HD. I watched one episode of something, and haven't used it again since.


In some regions (apparently Japan): https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.amazon.avo...

In others: http://www.amazon.com/Amazon-com-Amazon-Video/dp/B00N28818A

For most users, installing the Amazon Appstore is required.


You can install the Amazon Video app on Android now via the Amazon app. No Chromecast, so I haven't really used it much, and it doesn't look like you can tell it to download shows onto your SD card instead of internal storage. I'm guessing I'll end up using it for limited times when I wouldn't have a TV anyway, like airplane trips.


Their solution is for you to buy an Amazon Fire Stick and use it instead of your Chromecast.


It doesn't make any sense. They want to sell me Prime not the Fire Stick. To sell Prime get it on as many devices as possible and adding Chromecast support is easy.

Amazon makes some strange decisions.


They want to sell the Fire TV and Fire Stick because it will get you 1) used to talking to their remote, 2) hopefully get you searching and browsing around for all kinds of stuff - their selection is a fascinating mix of really new stuff and older stuff and b-movies, and it's often surprising what's covered by the prime subscription and what you have to pay extra for.

By getting you to spend more time in their interface, they can add things. E.g. Prime Music had me spending a lot of time checking out playlists, some of which may very well lead to purchases of albums where only a couple of songs are available for free.

It also gets them penetration for whenever they add shopping to these devices, and e.g. lets you talk to Echo and ask it to bring up the top five best new phones on your TV for you to choose fro.

Getting Prime on Chromecast would help their penetration of Prime, but it might hinder their overall service penetration by giving some people a reason not to get a Fire Stick. Especially when the Fire Stick/Fire TV and Chromecast are all cheap enough that there's little stopping people from getting both...

It may very well backfire for them, but there's all kinds of reasons for them to want to push the Fire TV devices hard.


But the Chromecast has no interface of it's own! If I use Netflix on Chromecast, I'm in the Netflix app on my tablet or phone. Amazon can still own it's interface.

I don't have enough ports on my TV for a Fire Stick and a Chromecast (and everything else) so I'm going to choose the one with the most options (Chromecast).


Yes, but if you're used to picking an app and casting from it, rather than picking a device and chosing apps on it, Amazon faces a much larger hurdle. On the Fire TV/Stick they control the UI. On Chromecast, they have to not only convince you to use Chromecast, but convince you to stay in their app.

They can lose a lot of users and still find it to be worth it for the extra engagement of the ones they did get.


>Amazon Fire TV Stick

Which unsurprisingly, doesn't support media from the Google Play Store. The only acceptable streaming device is one from a neutral third party (Roku, Tivo, etc.) who will support all providers.


But you still can't use the Cast button from your phone to launch on those devices. My Xbox One shows me the option for YouTube videos, but nothing else. There isn't a one-stop option right now.


I got a fire stick when it was on sale for like $20. It is a useless piece of garbage with a terrible user experience. The UI is clunky, as it tries as unsuccessfully as every set top box manufacturer to do everything with a crappy remote. Chromecast did it right and going back to the bad UI of a set top box is just unacceptable anymore.


Everybody here is bashing Amazon but do we know why Amazon video isn't available on Chromecast or Apple TV?


I think, at least for Chromecast, it's because they didn't implement Chromecast support in their app. Google makes the API's available so I think it's up to Amazon to add support for that.


It would be fairly trivial for Amazon to provide an Android/iOS app that supports the Chromecast.

On the other hand, maybe Amazon is angry at Google for not making Google Play Movies/Music available on the 'Fire' line of tablets, and this is retribution?


> On the other hand, maybe Amazon is angry at Google for not making Google Play Movies/Music available on the 'Fire' line of tablets, and this is retribution?

The equivalent to that would be refusing to release Amazon Video on the Play Store, which Amazon has done.

Banning hardware products from the Amazon marketplace is an escalation.


Yes could this move be an attempt to force Apple to allow the Prime app on the Apple TV? I've always wondered who: Apple or Amazon is stopping Amazon Instant from appearing on the Apple TV.


There's nothing preventing Amazon from creating a video app for Apple TV, HBO, Showtime and many others have created similar apps for the Apple TV. This is Amazon choosing not to.


Amazon wants to sell digital downloads on their app, and they don't want to give anyone 30%. HBO does not.


Apple wouldn't force Amazon in a 30% rev share deal. They don't with HBO and Showtime. And if Apple tried that, then Amazon would be in the right to block Apple TV sales.


That's probably the case, but how do you know for sure? Maybe Amazon did create one and Apple rejected it?


Yeah I agree with this. There are a couple of shows that are only on Prime Instant Video that I use it for. But I'll still watch it on my Apple TV. If Amazon chooses not to build an app, I'll go elsewhere, I won't buy a whole Fire TV just to watch a show.

All this for one of the weakest parts of Prime. I've been a Prime member for 3-4 years before I watched my first prime video. I simply don't care for the service.


Absolutely, and if they really try to open up a front against Google, that might be a stupid move, as they risk an "accidental" visibility penalty in their Google SERPs. Usually, Google doesn't play this low, but Amazon has much more at stake.

Shameless self-plug: See both your Netlix and Amazon Prime accounts' content at once at our site justwatch.com - filtered to your likings :)


Remember when Google TV used to do that?


Prime Video is, like, what does this even have to do with why I signed up for Prime. We use Prime because we order enough stuff in a year that postage would be over £45. They're trying for nonexistent "synergy" to satisfy internal numbers in some way, and nothing a customer wants.


I have prime, and mainly consume via IOS. It's annoying to search for something only for results to come up as "You can pay for this!".

It'd be nice if there was a way to hide all non-prime content (or at least, if it is there - then it should be the default with, say, a "Search again including pay video" option)


> I have Prime and prefer Netflix, because Prime Video still doesn't have a great selection.

In my (limited) experience, the selection between Amazon Prime Video and Netflix is about the same. While this move very much feels like degrading performance of competing office suites on your OS or even refusing to run your windowing system on a competitor's OS (cough Microsoft cough), I can see why they would do it. For one thing, it's kind of the reverse: it's telling Apple and Google to get their shit together and not degrade performance of Prime Video on their devices (last I heard, my Apple loving family still couldn't watch Prime Video).

To someone like me, who owns no Apple products and isn't tied to Google either, but is an avid Netflix user, Amazon Video and Netflix fill my needs quite nicely. Of course, take this all with a grain of salt from someone who's logging so many hours climbing and hiking he hasn't seriously watched TV/movies in a while. But the couch potato wife hasn't complained, and she's the one who bought the Amazon Fire TV.


> For one thing, it's kind of the reverse: it's telling Apple and Google to get their shit together and not degrade performance of Prime Video on their devices

Chromecast only doesn't support Amazon Video because Amazon hasn't made apps (iOS, Android, or Web) that support the Google Cast SDK, not because Google does something to degrade performance.

AFAICT, essentially the same is true of AppleTV -- Amazon Video doesn't work on the platform because Amazon hasn't bothered to make an app for the platform.


> Chromecast only doesn't support Amazon Video because Amazon hasn't made apps (iOS, Android, or Web) that support the Google Cast SDK, not because Google does something to degrade performance.

> AFAICT, essentially the same is true of AppleTV -- Amazon Video doesn't work on the platform because Amazon hasn't bothered to make an app for the platform.

Interesting. Do we know definitively that this is the case? I mean, is it possible Amazon did submit apps and they were rejected? Or in the case of Apple they didn't want to give Apple their 30% cut?

And this may seem facetious, but are we begging the question of who should be supporting Amazon Video in the first place?


> Or in the case of Apple they didn't want to give Apple their 30% cut?

As a data point, when Amazon bought ComiXology, the in-app store was immediately removed, and replaced with syncing purchased made on the ComiXology website.


> For one thing, it's kind of the reverse: it's telling Apple and Google to get their shit together and not degrade performance of Prime Video on their devices (last I heard, my Apple loving family still couldn't watch Prime Video).

Apple doesn't make apps for the vendors, the vendors make apps for the platform. HBO and Showtime created apps for Apple TV. Amazon is deciding to not create apps on Apple TV and Chromecase, not the other way around.


I dunno, I wouldnt be surprised if Prime Video and AWS actually make money, unlike the "most valuable component" that does not. Besides, will you really stop using Amazon if it is the "Everything except a few devices store"?


I use them both as well. What I like about Amazon* Video is that it has new releases. If I don't catch a movie while it's still in the theater, I can watch it the day it comes out online.

I still have a Netflix DVD subscription, so I could go that route too, but I always forget. Are there other good ways to watch new releases? Looks like the iTunes store also lets you rent movies.

*Edit: I meant Amazon Video here when I said Prime Video. (The difference being that Prime has a set of included videos you can watch for free)


Vudu is a pretty solid platform for both renting and buying digitally. It works on pretty much everything these days, but I don't believe there is a native AppleTV app yet.


Amazon _Prime_ almost never has new releases. Can you point to any recent release that's on Prime right now?


You're right (fixed). I meant to say Amazon Video, not Prime Video. I was thinking of the feature where you can pay to rent or purchase a video, not just the set of movies that are included in Prime without additional cost. I agree that the 'Prime' part does not have a lot of new releases.


It's not your fault. Amazon's branding is confusing.


Selection was not the issue for me. I view on PC and streaming to a PC from Amazon Prime was essentially non-functional. Crappy Silverlight, which would buffer eternally and never play, or flash, which still paused to buffer every minute.

Netflix just works. It'll even play in in higher resolution (not full HD) without the HDMI cable. Prime just says "no" and gives the low-res stream.

There are many things on Amazon's service I'd watch, but the actual viewing experience for me is awful.


Agreed, trying to go from one season to the next in the same show is painful.. Amazon Prime Video in general has turned me off ever since they started.. I've had a prime account since it first came out and tend to buy a lot of stuff on amazon... more and more, it's a fairly unpleasant experience and I'm now questioning the need for a prime account.


This reminds me of the stupid stuff Comcast kept doing when they were trying to get approval for the merger with Time Warner Cable. It only hit them after the fact that they could sue Verizon over "skinny bundles" or buy TWC.

I see how Amazon loses from this but not how it will win.


I think it's funny that you proved exactly what the poster above you was saying. You don't like Prime simply because of selection.


I don't think that Netflix is Prime Video's competition; it's iTunes, Google Play, and DVD sales.


not to mention the fact that Prime Instant Video UX is complete shit...


i couldnt find an andoird app for their service last weekend.

terminated my testmonth after 3 hours because of this and went back to netflix


I have found them to be constantly more expensive on tools vs Home Depot and Lowes. I used to think that Amazon would pretty much aways give me the best price (+/- random sites that may or may not be shady), but when it comes to any type of tools that has not been the case. I have also found Costco to be often times cheaper for household supplies such as paper towel, etc. Amazon's main benefit is convenience, but their price advantage seems to be slipping.


Amazon has never been able to keep up with physical store prices on loss leaders- items that stores frequently mark down below inventory costs to get people in the door in the hopes they will also buy enough marked up merchandise to make up for the loss.

I did compare Bounty paper towels and Charmin Ultra about a month ago between Costco and Amazon and found that the dollar savings I got at Costco didn't make up for having to drive 20 minutes to get there (and battle all the soccer moms for a parking space). This might not be the case everywhere and for everyone, of course, but for me I am usually willing to pay a little more for next day delivery to my door in exchange for shopping in my pajamas.


Even on just middle-of-the-road household goods, ignoring weekly sales, Amazon doesn't seem very competitive with brick-and-mortar stores for staple goods, or at least those I buy. I occasionally run down a list of stuff I typically buy at Walmart (shampoo, detergent, OTC drugs, sponges, that kind of thing) to see if any of it has gotten competitive on Amazon, and it usually ends up being way more, not just 5% more or something but more like 50%+.


Prime Pantry is extremely competitive for me (in New York City) compared to brick-and-mortar stores.

I agree that before Prime Pantry, however, that Amazon was more expensive or I had to buy way to many items (e.g. 10 bottles of shampoo).


Interesting. Just a couple of days ago, I compared some kitchen cleaning supplies at my local Target to Amazon and found Amazon quite a bit cheaper. I wonder if it's a matter of regional variation, where Amazon just isn't pricing competitively for your local market and Walmart is.


Probably very much the case- I live in one of the most expensive metro regions in the US so unless I drive a ways out of town to a Walmart things are marked up pretty far.


Not even limited to such items, I'd say - when I was looking to buy a (then new) Nikon D7100 in 2013, Amazon's price was quite in the middle of the pack, with some tiny stores offering the best prices.

These days, for anything non-trivial, I'll treat Amazon as the virtual storefront, then look around for competing prices, with Amazon as the last resort.


I used to think that Amazon would pretty much aways give me the best price

People used to think the same thing about Walmart. But so long as they have you "in the door" they will try to get you on margin. (Their margin)


This is a great insight, and it reminds me that there are scores of people in management at Wal Mart and Amazon tweaking prices, working out margins, and generally fretting over the prices that we spend microseconds considering. Caveat emptor, always!


I've always wondered if that was a regional variance. Since I live in Texas, I assume the prices of our grocery store staples are cheaper than they would be in, say, downtown New York City.

But if I lived in a more urban, city environment, where easy parking isn't a given and picking up groceries in a car is more a hassle, then the time savings of having Amazon deliver for close to the same price that I would pay in store is much more worth it.


Amazon's prices for the dry goods I buy (cereals, energy bars) are now often comparable or more expensive than buying locally here in Manhattan. (The grocery stores I am comparing are on my walk home from my subway stop)

When I was in college Amazon had better prices on these products than my local stores in Iowa.

This is why I'm much less excited about Amazon than I once was.


Do we know Amazon is actually offering the same prices to people in NYC and Iowa? Seems like they could maximize their profit by normalizing pricing to a user's regional cost of living.


they almost certainly aren't. in nyc people shop to optimize for time, not price.


Of all products, food probably shows the least regional variance, at least in the US. (Source: I've lived like everywhere.)


Anecdotal, but I recently needed a drill and couldn't wait for Prime shipping. Home Depot was charging $15 more, but they price-matched Amazon.



For a Ryobi, it'd make sense that Home Depot would be cheaper since anyone selling it on Amazon is a reseller; Ryobi is sold exclusively by Home Depot in the US.


I've seen the same with Scotts, Fiskars, and a few other brands. Also, things like planes, chisels, etc. seem to be cheaper at B&M stores. On the other hand Amazon does have a wider selection.


Your point is valid, but this may be a bad example. Construction margins are so thin, and construction businesses so sensitive to it, and Lowe's and Home Depot are so fungible. Even among retailers, there's no room for margin. Especially on easily-compared items like tools; construction workers know what they're buying.


if you can find a seller in the marketplace (many of those still offer amazon prime shipping), that is not in your state, you can avoid sales tax. did you factor this into your price comparison?


Within 3 minutes of reading this, I canceled my Amazon Prime account. The fact they require sideloading APKs for streaming video on Android devices, and even then only support SD quality was annoying.

This just tells me they have no intention whatsoever of improving the situation. I guess I'll use Google Express now.


Yes - they had an excellent brand for quantity of product and quality of service. Their whole competition with Google and lack of support of its products has been undermining that.

It seems a particularly bad move given the quick delivery space has many competitors now and Wal-mart, Target, Jet.com... have began competing with online orders. Reputation will be extremely important.


The lack of chromecast support was why I never jumped on Prime video.

I get that you want more people to use your fire stick, but as a source of entertainment competing with Netflix and HBO, you want to be more accessible, not less.


Just out of curiosity, was streaming video your primary use case for Prime? I'm a huge fan of Amazon Prime (for purchasing goods with free two-day shipping), but I've never used the Prime streaming services at all.


No, I've primarily used Amazon for purchasing physical items when I need them yesterday. That said, I'm no stranger to Amazon's streaming product -- prior to the release of the Chromecast, Amazon was my primary source for purchased video content via PS3 (Currently I have 38 movies and ~8 seasons of television episodes in the account). This also meant I'd frequently use Amazon Prime video to avoid having to switch over to the Netflix app.

I'm far less concerned with the availability of the streaming product itself, and more upset about the corporate mindset this behavior demonstrates.


Same here, shipping is probably my biggest benefit, prime's video offerings are about the same as Netflix's


This is why I use Prime Video over Netflix. Video selection is equivalent, but Prime is cheaper and comes with the added shipping, music, and eBook benefits.


I'd never thought of it from that angle -- though I'd have a hard time letting go of my Netflix exclusives (house of cards, etc)


I believe they required sideloading because of Google Play's restrictions on selling items / subscriptions without giving Google a cut.


Google does not restrict the ability to sell items through your app; that's Apple. You can implement a store in your app with purchases if you want, without using Google's payment system. And many such apps exist in the Play store.

What you can't do in an app in the Play store is implement your own app store and load arbitrary apps. And Amazon forces you to install the full Amazon app including its app store, rather than offering a standalone version of Amazon Video.

Amazon likely does this because people care enough about Amazon Video to jump through hoops to get it, and once people have jumped through those hoops, Amazon can then try to get them to use the Amazon app store instead of Play.


And their forcing you to install an app store shim that asks for ALL/ALL application rights is why they got booted to my "snoopy vendors only" Android profile: the one with zero human contact information. For those of us willing to put the time into it I'd love a cleaner way to containerize apps and firewall off personal information.


An Android for Work profile runs on Android's new containerization feature (derived from Knox). You'll either need a separate Apps account or use a custom Work Policy Controller[1] as a lightweight app container.

I'd not be surprised if someone has built something marketable on this stack already.

[1] https://developer.android.com/training/enterprise/work-polic...


Slick! I will have to try imposing a profile on something like Uber to see what happens. :-)


That's interesting, I didn't know you could do that with Android. That is a hell of an awesome feature, coming from an iOS user. IMO, we'll almost be forced to maintain multiple identities in the future, and it's good to hear that Google is getting a jump on that trend.

It makes sense, of course, considering that this approach will let Google -- but no one else -- know who all those identities point back to.


It's not in every Android distribution: for instance Samsung doesn't include it on their phones, but profiles are one of the benefits of running stock Android on a Nexus phone.


> "snoopy vendors only" Android profile

That's a brilliant idea, especially now that the multi-user support works on phones in addition to tablets.


If you're willing to root your phone there's an xposed privacy framework that inserts itself between the OS and snoopy apps to allow finer access control.

http://repo.xposed.info/module/biz.bokhorst.xprivacy

This allows you discretion for apps you still wish to install but demand too many privileges.


Unlike in the iTunes App Store, that restriction is only on items and subscriptions that can only be consumed inside the app. That's why Amazon can continue to sell music and Netflix can continue to sell subscriptions in their apps. There is nothing stopping Amazon from offering Prime Instant Video through the Play Store with no modifications.


> I don't think this move is in Amazon's best interests long term.

I hope this is correct but I am unsure. People will probably not realize this is the case, and it is unlikely to affect _too_many_ people_ so the brand goodwill won't be that damaged. This is the same thing google does with search results, maybe not so much with competitors (maybe they do, I don't know) but they do penalize things they don't like. I remember the rapgenius penalty and to be clear I am not suggesting that this is the same thing as in the article, but to your point, I hope users get angry about this but I am unsure to what extent it will hurt them.


That could be. It may depend on how much focus Google and Apple place on marketing this products. If I notice a few things I want aren't on Amazon in a row I would stop looking there first. And if I start searching google or wal-mart.com first instead of Amazon they lose those sales.

I don't think most people will care about this as a negative PR event - but the fact it can't be found may contribute to them not being the first search.


Google doesn't penalize competitors in search rankings!


I had a long held belief that Amazon is a principled and trust worthy company... sadly that vision is crumbling before my eyes.


Um, no offense, why?

They crushed all the technical bookstores because they didn't have to pay sales tax. Their customer service beyond cheap refunds is abysmal. They understand how hard it is to distinguish between stuff that is only serviced through them, but choose not to fix it. And Bezos is famous for being both an asshole and micromanager.

One-stop? Sure. Efficient? Maybe. Trustworthy? Pardon me for laughing.


Um, no offense, why? They crushed all the technical bookstores because they didn't have to pay sales tax.

Um, no, they crushed all the technical bookstores because they could always get you the book you wanted very quickly and at a good price, unlike any other bookstore on the planet. Every one of those bookstores could have done the same thing in the Internet age, but the thing is, they didn't.

I do miss bookstores like Computer Literacy but that's pure nostalgia -- I'd never want to go back. I couldn't give a crap about sales tax one way or the other.

Their customer service beyond cheap refunds is abysmal.

What other kind of customer service is there, for a retailer? When something goes wrong with an Amazon order, I don't have pay for it. End of story.

They understand how hard it is to distinguish between stuff that is only serviced through them, but choose not to fix it.

That much is true... their UX is a dog's breakfast, and always has been. Best thing you can say about it is that it could be worse.

And Bezos is famous for being both an asshole and micromanager.

Well, I don't report to him, so... good. Retail is not a good business for dilettante CEOs.

One-stop? Sure. Efficient? Maybe. Trustworthy? Pardon me for laughing.

They've seldom put a foot wrong where I'm concerned. This does sound like a pretty dumb move, though. What's good for the customer is good for Amazon, and this isn't good for the customer.


> Um, no, they crushed all the technical bookstores because they could always get you the book you wanted very quickly and at a good price, unlike any other bookstore on the planet. Every one of those bookstores could have done the same thing in the Internet age, but the thing is, they didn't.

First, Amazon had a built-in advantage on sales tax for a LONG time. That's 8% off the top where I live.

Second, Amazon leveraged its volume in the popular bestsellers to strong-arm the publishers on the technical area. So, while my local bookstore would have to eat the inventory if I ordered a book and didn't want it, Amazon could return the inventory. This was HUGE.

Third, Amazon often WASN'T any faster than my local bookstore, but they would always claim they were. A couple times I ordered a technical book overnight from Amazon that claimed it was "in stock" and it would appear 2 weeks later--just like my local bookstore said it would take to get it from the publisher.

Fourth, my local technical bookstore was really good about ordering online and jumped immediately. It still didn't help.

The combination of no sales tax, monopoly position to get better terms from publishers, and outright lying about stock simply crushed the technical bookstores.

Well, jokes on Amazon and the publishers, since I can't browse technical books any more, I don't buy technical books anymore. And those had huge profit margins.


No offense taken. I used the word belief because this is my own personal perspective. Up to this point, everything that Amazon has done, it benefited me (personally), as a customer. This is one instance where I can't fathom a guess as to how it benefits me or any of their customers. Especially when they give an insulting reason, like customer confusion.


Amazon also refuses to sell firearms. Do you view that as unprincipled?


That's probably more of a licensing issue.


> I don't think this move is in Amazon's best interests long term.

Who cares if it's in their interests? Given the power they wield, the more relevant question is whether it's in the interest of the broader market.


It's kind of like a grocery store eliminating the name brand items that compete with the store brand. In this case, the store brand (aka Amazon Instant Video), isn't that interesting to me. I might be willing to consider Amazon Instant Video if they made it available on Chromecast. I'm not sure I'd use it even if they gave me an Amazon branded streaming device. I like the simplicity of my Chromecast, and it serves me well.


Agreed. I cancelled my prime membership today due to this unsavory behavior.


> If they are no longer the "Everything Store" then they won't be where I go to for everything...

They aren't the "Everything Store" and never were. It was a marketing slogan. They boot products from Amazon.com all the time.


Exactly. I've ordered from Amazon more than 700 times in the last 5 years. I usually start my product search on Amazon, and if they have what I need and the price seems reasonable, I often won't even check NewEgg, Ebay, Google shopping, etc.

Intentionally reduce your selection for customer-hostile reasons like this and I probably move some of my product search traffic to start with Google shopping, which is bound to cost them more than what they make from the incremental video rental I might make. It's not like I'm not going to have multiple Apple TVs in my house anyway...


It's very clear there's been frustration from their brand around customers using their Prime Instant Video product. I've been targeted with ads, marketing emails and even direct mail to use the service. It's clear they want more eyeballs on the thing they're giving to prime members for free.

In the end, all it would take to get me fully on board is a native XMBC plugin.


Amazon also has items listed by sellers for cheaper than Prime but they are buried in the buy box.

That might be changing. I can't say more than that.


If you add the shipping costs, those offers are usually more than what prime offers


Everyone adds shipping cost; shipping is never free. Anyway, Even in Seller-only items, the buybox is always awarded to the cheapest "price+shipping" listings, but I have seen seller items pushed down for the sake of Amazon or FBA products even if they are cheaper on the whole.


You should be selling electronic content to be the everything store! That's the whole point. If apple and google tries to stop amazon from selling tv shows or movies, of course amazon is going to fight back


I agree, this is a bad move for Amazon.

I also go to them because they probably have what I want, and they have reliable shipping. So if they start cutting things out, what's going to be next?


I bet they have studied and considered this angle extensively before announcing this decision.


Probably true, however I wish the innovation/research went into making Prime Video a better product. I have had it (as part of Prime) for years but only watched one or two videos on it b/c of inferior selection, UX, and quality.


100% agree. It seems so obvious. Not sure how they didn't think that one through.


and I bet a few EU anti trust cases Amazon hasn't made a huge amount of friends and there's more than a few European publishers that would love to see Amazon get into trouble.


It's probably retaliatory due to Apple and Google leveraging their platforms against Amazon's video distribution.

It makes sense that they would, in turn, leverage their physical distribution platform against Apple and Google's physical streaming products.

Amazon probably feels as though they were hit first in this fight.


> It's probably retaliatory due to Apple and Google leveraging their platforms against Amazon's video distribution.

In what way? No idea about Apple but as other commentators have said - is there anything stopping them supporting Amazon Video on Android/Chromecast?


> If they are no longer the "Everything Store" then they won't be where I go to for everything...

I'm working on it: http://percht.com , its still under heavy development and im not done crawling everything, but its coming. yeah you cant order on percht either, but i have to start somewhere... There's cool stuff behind the scenes including react / nlp / and neural nets in case anyone would like to collaborate.


Amazon has something like this, but only targeted to India: http://www.junglee.com

Edit: Disclosure: I worked on Junglee for two years, but don't anymore.


>"Over the last three years, Prime Video has become an important part of Prime," Amazon said in the e-mail. "It’s important that the streaming media players we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion."

Google and Apple now both have open SDK's for creating streaming apps for their devices. Isn't the the fact these devices don't "interact well with Prime Video" entirely Amazon's fault?


"Google and Apple now both have open SDK's for creating streaming apps for their devices." And with what provisos about selling through those apps? This is not a technical issue. Amazon just doesn't want to give up 30% of GMS (which would be an even higher % of its margins) on digital media.


Google does not take a 30% cut of all content sold through apps on Google Play. On Android, the in-app purchase rule only applies to content that can only be consumed via apps (so not Netflix, Amazon, etc.).

And even on iOS, Amazon still has video apps, they just don't allow you to buy or rent directly within the app: https://itunes.apple.com/app/amazon-video/id545519333

There's nothing stopping Amazon from supporting Apple TV or Chromecast, except itself.


Exactly. To build on your point, take Amazon's kindle app, available for both android and ios. With Apple devices you can't purchase any content within the app, but at least you can read what you've already purchased from Amazon through other means. They could do something similar with Amazon video.


> And with what provisos about selling through those apps

Chromecast doesn't have any special connection to Google Play. Anyone can cast whatever they want. Amazon Prime Instant Video can already be cast, but the user experience is so bad that you probably don't want to.


[deleted]


> But doesn't Google have some monetization plans for the chromecast ?

Well, sure, you pay Google for the device -- that's fairly direct monetization.

And it increases the utility of (and thus the demand for) content from and subscriptions to Google's audio/video services (whose mobile apps all support Chromecast), so its monetized indirectly that way.

Other than that, its adoption drives app developer adoption and user familiarity for Google Cast, which, aside from its use in Chromecast, is a key feature of Android TV, which Google monetizes not just by selling hardware direct to consumers, but also via its cut of apps in the Play Store, and by (presumably) getting paid by Smart TV manufacturers to use Android TV as their Smart TV OS.


Well they do charge you money for the device. I think in the long term the goal is probably more about connecting the internet to your living room (making that ubiquitous) which naturally means more YouTube usage which means more ads. They don't necessarily need a cut of every app's revenue.


By the way, almost every Youtube-on-TV app can be controlled Chromecast-like manner by the mobile app.


YouTube is great about compatibility. It automatically detects my Oppo Blu-Ray player for casting, and if nothing else you can always navigate on your display device to youtube.com/tv and pair the display with your mobile app via QR code or alphanumeric code. YouTube can control literally any device that is capable of browsing to the YouTube site.


The chromecast isn't necessarily something that brings revenue on its own -- it just lowers the barrier to entry for Google's other services. If it's easier for you to watch youtube, play Google Music, etc. on your TV, it's more likely you will do so... and be exposed to ads in the process. I'd liken it to Google Fiber.

It probably leverages Android in some fashion also, though good iOS apps have chrome cast support as well.


Do you think that Google may also have payment arrangements with HBO, Netflix, and others? I can't imagine it's very significant but there might be something there too, especially with the large early adoption of Chromecast v1.0.


Not AFAIK. I use my Chromecast all the time and unless there's something I don't know, Google never gets a cut of anything streamed through it.


Amazon already has Prime Video apps on Android and iOS that would be subject to the same policies yet those apps show no sign of disappearing anytime soon. After this announcement, I have to believe that is only because Amazon does not have a viable alternative smartphone like it does for streaming devices.


But Amazon already doesn't support purchasing in their iOS apps why can't they make an app but do the same on Apple TV?


I don't think that's the case because Prime Video is on Xbox and Playstation, where they instruct you to go to amazon.com to buy/rent videos. It could work exactly the same way on Apple TV. So why are they not on it?

It must be another reason... But what?


Presumably just like the Prime Video app on iPad & iPhone: you must buy from the website, because buying thru the app requires a nontrivial percentage of revenue (on iOS, 30%) go to the platform provider.


While that's true, you can get around it by just not having a store in your app at all. This is how Amazon's existing iOS Kindle app -- and Instant Video streaming app -- work, and (barring politics on Apple and Google's parts) there's absolutely no reason that they can't make apps for Apple TV and Chromecast that work the same way.

Apple's refusal to even allow links to external stores is petty and obnoxious, but Amazon is essentially playing the same game: if you won't let us play the way we want, we're going to make life difficult for our own customers while clutching our pearls and telling everyone that you made us do it.


I guess the question is whether those SDKs provide everything Amazon needs. And, are there no legal restrictions that affect Amazon either.

Overall the article just says Prime "doesn't work well" on those devices, but does work well on others. It doesn't say why. At this point it's hard to say who's to blame. It would have been nice if the article had investigated the issue.


Amazon Instant Video is available on Sony TVs running Android TVs, but Amazon disables the app from working on non-Sony TVs:

http://www.androidpolice.com/2015/05/16/amazon-disables-the-...

Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Crunchyroll, etc. all support Chromecast. It would be extremely easy for Amazon to support it, if they wanted to.


Are you saying that the article is wrong when it says that Amazon video worked, but poorly, on non-Sony TVs?


Are we referring to the same article? The Android Police article linked above reports that Amazon blocked users who tried to run the app on non-Sony TVs:

> But now it doesn't work. "License Error" codes have started showing up when running the Instant Video app on the Nexus Player, presumably because someone at Amazon saw that it was running on non-blessed hardware and shut it down.


I meant the original article this entire discussion is about, which says

> Amazon’s streaming service, called Prime Video, doesn’t run easily on its rival’s hardware.

So it does run, at least according to the article. But it's either hard to make it run, or it doesn't work well. Both of those seem to contradict your link. Very puzzling, I guess one of those must be wrong?


Assuming Bloomberg didn't just fudge the phrasing, they were probably referring to how Amazon Video requires the Amazon Appstore to be installed first: https://www.amazon.com/gp/video/splash/sd/t/appstore

There are no technical or legal barriers preventing Amazon from supporting iOS and Android devices.


Ok, thanks, I was confused by how they phrased it.


The biggest streaming competitor to iTunes in the video space has got to be Netflix. And Netflix as well as HBO, Showtime, and many networks have had apps on iOS for many years, and AppleTV for a couple years (and presumably with the bar limiting the number of AppleTV Apps going away this fall, there will be an explosion of such Apps.)

I don't think you can say Apple is to blame (or Google, though the google situation I can't speak as clearly to because I don't know the technical details there.)


Does the Cast SDK depend on google play services? If so, that's got a pretty spotty technical record on their Fire devices, and I don't think Amazon is allowed to redistribute it anyways. Might be they don't want to implement Chromecast support for every platform except their own.


If it did - how would it work on iOS?


My understanding is that to implement the Cast SDK in an Android or iOS app, one must link a closed source binary.

On Android, it's Google Play Services, while on iOS it's a custom Cast binary that Google provides to developers to link in their apps. Due to this, almost all apps that support Cast are on iOS, Android, or Chrome because closed-source binaries are only distributed for those platforms.

Amazon would have to make special arrangements to include the Cast SDK on Fire OS. I still don't think this excuses them from bringing a proper Amazon Prime Video app with Cast support to iOS and (Google's) Android.


If I was Apple I would try really hard to avoid Amazon's service working.. they are a more direct competitor than say netflix, as they sell both the hardware and the service


I think you're thinking of it backwards. Amazon Prime video working on iOS and AppleTV is in Apple's interest because it means however many prime members will use those devices. Apple's content strategy is purely about selling hardware. Apple's not getting into the content business like Amazon and Netflix are (both of them are producing original programming... all Apple's done in that regard is the iTunes music festival in London which seems to be more PR event and technology test than anything else.)

This is why Apple worked with Netflix, HBO, etc to get apps on the Apple TV even before the TVOS was ready.


Apple isn't Microsoft in the 1990s where it was Apple or the highway. They've allowed Kindle, Netflix, and other apps, some featured prominently on their default configuration.

They've even gone so far as to present options when looking at a movie in their store on the new hardware and OS so you know what other services offer it.

I'm guessing Amazon will be removed from this list immediately.


Exactly. I bet they'll capitulate eventually though. Prime Video membership seems like such a small thing to gain in exchange for staying out of the Apple TV store.


My guess is that this restriction will not apply to the latest Apple TV hardware when it ships.


Guessing here, but I suspect Prime Video runs at a thin margin (perhaps at a loss) and is used largely as a gateway for purchasing or renting non-prime video content. Amazon could only sell that content on device by giving Apple a 30% revenue cut, which may be unacceptably high.


Considering that the primary purpose of the Prime video app on the PS3 seems to be to make you think you can stream something, then tell you you have to buy it right before you start watching, I'd say this is likely correct.

The "free" prime streaming seems to just be a marketing tool for getting you into their video-buying app. I'd be surprised if they have much interest in streaming anywhere where they can't push paid videos without having someone else take a cut.


This move really saddens me. When I left Netscape to work at Amazon one of the things that I was excited about was a quote from Jeff. "Focus on the customer, not competition." It seems they hve forgotten that.

I found it frustrating when I couldn't stream Prime videos to my android phone (is stock android that different from the version on Fire?)

I found it frustrating (but understandable) when they said they wouldn't support Google TV anymore. (Although the 'support' was letting me watch videos in Chrome).

Now this? It seems like they have forgotten completely about the customer and are focusing solely on the competition.


Prime instant video always worked on Android. Amazon just didn't want you to use it because they wanted to sell you a tablet. Or a horribly overpriced clunky phone.

Amazon now lets you use Prime instant video on your Android device, but there's a big catch. You have to manually install it from their site and allow untrusted apps on your phone to do so. And it's not just Prime instant video you're installing, you're installing the full Amazon App Store on your Android device and giving it full permissions to everything on your phone so it can install and update other apps.

This type of behavior is only focused on the competition and a big middle finger to the customer.


And while you can get it running, it doesn't support Chromecast because they want you to buy their own competing product. I can feel the Justice Department's Antitrust Division rumbling from here.


Similarly, the normal buying experience is being compromised by the pushing of Amazon Prime. When you simply buy a product and want it sent to you, you really have to hunt out the small, unbolded text which allows you to do that without paying any subscription, as against a display of advert and button covering about 2/3rds of the screen to sign up to Prime.

I have had an elderly neighbour ask for help after mistakenly signing up for the service, and personally, the experience reminds me of hunting out the real download button on free download websites, in amongst the flash adverts. I've always thought the big advantage of Amazon was its ease of use for casual purchasers, and I can't imagine that level of hassle and uncertainty is appreciated.


Amazon Prime Video works on my Android TV (it's basically the Nexus player built in to the TV). Which one were you talking about? What is Google TV?


A precursor to Android TV: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_TV


> I found it frustrating when I couldn't stream Prime videos to my android phone (is stock android that different from the version on Fire?)

They've fixed that now. There was a time when you couldn't, but eventually the fire crashed badly enough that they started allowing it.


Amazon can absolutely do this (but I think it is a slippery slope, possibly a sign of some bad changes ahead at amazon. They really should be neutral about the products listed on their site) but the reason they gave is kinda ridiculous [1]. I have a hard time believing the enough people don't know the difference between Prime & Netflix to make this a legitimate reason to stop selling Chromecast and Apple TV

[1]: Over the last three years, Prime Video has become an important part of Prime," Amazon said in the e-mail. "It’s important that the streaming media players we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion.


"Over the last three years, Prime Video has become an important part of Prime," Amazon said in the e-mail. "It’s important that the streaming media players we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion."

Then make your damn Video application work with the Nexus Player.


It would be so easy for Amazon to support Chromecast. Instead they're losing me as a Prime customer.


I don't get it.


When my subscription expires, I won't get it anymore, either.


Exactly.


The should use the competitor's pages as an opportunity to upsell prime-compatible devices. Show a "Prime Video" logo crossed out that you can click on that takes you to a page telling you why Prime is so much better than whatever you're trying to buy.

(I don't know if that gets into legal hot waters or not, but couldn't be worse than actually not selling competing devices.)

If someone wants to buy an Apple TV, chances are they're just going to go to apple.com to do it, and Amazon has lost the chance to turn that customer over.


Or, you know, just implement Chromecast support in their apps. There's SDKs to do so, and netflix, hulu and others have already done so.


Their lack of support for other devices is almost certainly intentional. (I'm surprised at the amount of sway the hardware teams appear to have over the Prime Video app team. Someone very high up is preventing this from happening for strategic reasons.)


> Amazon can absolutely do this

May, maybe not. It depends if the FTC views this as an anti-competitive move. See https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/competition-guidance/guide-a...

"It is unlawful for a company to monopolize or attempt to monopolize trade, meaning a firm with market power cannot act to maintain or acquire a dominant position by excluding competitors or preventing new entry."


You can still buy Apple TV or Chromecast Directly, from Best Buy/Walmart, etc. etc.

All Amazon did with this is alienate people like me, who just want Prime to work with the 2 Chromecasts I already own. Good reminder that they are more interested in what they want than what I want.


Yep, I thought the same thing - I've referred the article to the UK Competition and Markets Authority, and to the UK Consumers' Association.


They really should be neutral about the products listed on their site) but the reason they gave is kinda ridiculous

Recall that they've also used the power of their catalog to fight publishers with whom they had pricing model disagreements (e.g. Hachette) by disallowing pre-orders of popular upcoming titles from those publishers.


People have raised this issue before, but it hasn't been taken seriously:

If Google can't show its own products ahead of others in the Google search, why can Amazon show its own products ahead of all the other products on its store on its front-page?


IANAL, but probably because Google has more of a monopoly on web search than Amazon does on online shopping.


Google has dominant marketshare in its industry (search engine), Amazon does not (retail).


This is a very bad move for Amazon on all levels, i'm pretty sure this will be cancelled and some heads will fly.

I mean :

- They piss their customers

- They piss their merchants, probably killing some businesses along the way

- They instill fear in their potential merchants. I was vaguely thinking about selling stuff on amazon mind you, and worried a bit about being locked in. Well, those fears are much more real now.

- They piss google and apple, obviously. They're competitors of course but it's a bit of a harsh move, in fact it looks like a war declaration.

- They have a very special place as the biggest merchant on the internet, people watch them and some fear for good reason what they could become (like the only e commerce platform on the internet), and what it could mean in term of market manipulation opportunities. Well they just gave those guys lots of cookies.

- They lose sales, obviously

All that for what ? Well that's ... not clear.


This is a unfortunate turn of events. When I worked for Amazon we were a neutral vendor and would sell anything that is legal. There were a number of first amendment right fights as well.

But clearly that era has come to a close.


It came to a close a long time ago. Amazon refuses to sell many legal products, eg caffeine powder and anything with the confederate flag.


Just in case anyone is interested in caffeine powder (interesting because it sublimates) do yourself a favor and don't order it.

The smallest orders available online are enough to kill an elephant, and you need a $500+ scale to dose it accurately enough to keep a human from overdosing. And while most human overdoses will be uniquely unpleasant but not lethal, there is definitely the potential for a lethal dose if someone puts a tablespoonful into a drink or something.

Pure caffeine is a uniquely bad thing to have around your living quarters. It's basically a poison (because of the difficulty in measuring dosage and small range between useful and dangerous effect), but people feel very comfortable with it, imagine it's safe to eat, and a big enough chunk of people will act macho towards it.


Funny story, I use to work for a pharma company, and we had all that kind of stuff in a secure drug lock up area. You had to log stuff out, it was all very organized. We did a lot of contract manufacturing and we'd get large orders and bring in temp workers. We had a guy one day who ended up getting into the pure caffeine powder, the chemist in the lab figured he'd ingested 800 cola's worth of caffeine. Like you said, not going to kill you but we sent him to the hospital any ways. And we decided to only allow regular employees to get into that area :)


800 colas of caffeine is easily enough to kill you. 34mg caffeine/12oz Coca Cola * 800 cans = 27g. LD50 in humans is 150-200mg/kg, so 12-16g for a 80kg adult.


You seem like you are knowledgeable about these things... how do they measure the LD50 in humans?


We kill mice, rats, hamsters, rabbits, and dogs with caffeine, and extrapolate the LD50 from our test data. Animal testing can be really awful.


The alternative is not knowing the LD50 of caffeine for humans.


Doesn't seem that crazy to me. One site I looked at sells 300 capsules for $15 and the whole page is littered with clear warnings about overdose. The lethal dose of caffeine seems to be around 5 to 10 grams so you'd have to eat 25 200mg capsules in a short period to get into danger. That doesn't seem any more dangerous than something like tylenol which they do sell.


The danger is with powders, not pills. Dosing powders requires you have a scale that is more accurate than what most people have, and proper technique in weighing it. The best way for most people to get an accurate dosage is to compound the caffeine with some filler and weigh that (cut it, basically).

Honestly, the only reason you should be dealing with powders is if you're making your own 'stack' of nootropics.


I think the grandparents warning only applies to pure caffein powder. Essentially pills are (professionally) predosed to be safe, so it shouldn't be a problem.


It's not that hard to dose out. Mix 10 grams of caffeine into 1L of water to obtain a 1% solution. Mix 100 grams of your primary solution into 1L of water to obtain a 0.1% secondary solution.

Every gram of secondary solution now has a milligram of caffeine. 2 tablespoons of secondary solution is roughly equivalent to a cola.


You're not even remotely correct. A $20 one will work just fine. Caffeine is dosed in the 100+ mg range to 300 mg for the average person.


> you need a $500+ scale to dose it accurately enough to keep a human from overdosing.

No you don't. It's not hard at all using milligram scales < $50. I do it all the time with various substances... including caffeine.


Yet they readily sell 5g bags of Yohimbine HCl powder which can cause cardiac problems at 30-50mg.


I agree that caffeine powder isn't worth buying because it tends to come in large sizes and is hard to measure out. I'd recommend caffeine pills/tablets, though. Much easier than brewing some coffee or tea, and you can manage dosages more easily.


The best way to use bulk caffeine is to dissolve it in water. It's highly soluble and you can easily measure larger volumes of water.


> you need a $500+ scale to dose it accurately enough

Or you can just get a super small 0.25 cent plastic scoop that amounts to normal dose.


You definitely can't do this, because you don't actually know the density of what you're measuring. Depending on how the caffeine was prepared, it'll be in crystalline flakes or chunks of varying sizes and configurations. Think of it like snow. You can't tell how much water went into a given volume of snow because you don't know if you're dealing with fluffy snow, wet snow, super fine powder snow, etc.


You definitely can. You don't need exactly 200.000 mg of caffeine for it to be 1 serving. Using 2 ~100mg spoonfuls will probably get you 150-250mg of caffeine, which isn't any more or less accurate than brewed coffee, which varies wildly in caffeine content.


Interesting how they are not responding to comments like this demonstrating how wrong they are.


There is a difference between refusing to sell things you think are unethical even if you disagree with the reasoning vs. refusing to sell things for baldly anti-competitive reasons


It isn't about ethics, it is about appealing to the masses under a very shallow guise of ethics. That might not change your point much, but for me personally, it leaves a more bitter taste in my mouth.


There is a difference, but it's definitely one that can be intentionally conflated if it suits them.


They still sell the current American flag, and we've killed what, over 100K civilians in the middle east in an unnecessary war? I guess fake outrage is necessary to fill the 24 hour news cycle.


Legality should not be the bar you hold products to. For example, you don't want to sell products which don't work. You don't want to sell mislabelled products.


That era is over since 2010 at least.

http://teleread.com/ebooks/amazon-removes-incest-related-ero...

Color me cynical, but I don't have the slightest faith in a corporation's fairness and integrity.


Hmm, guess it is also time for a new neutral vendor to rise up? Anyone interested in funding an startup that will provide warehousing and an online marketplace for physical goods in a neutral manor to ultimately benefit consumers and shareholders? We also promise to try to make the search better than amazons. email is in my profile.


A huge part of Amazon's success is that they don't do all of the warehousing. It's quite easy to become a seller on Amazon and ship stuff from your home. That's how they can have such a massive selection of items for sale. Obviously they also have huge warehouses. Good luck competing with them though :)


Which is really what the discussion is about, besides ebay who else competes in this space?


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