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Google Is Blocking YouTube on Amazon's Echo Show and Fire TV (engadget.com)
332 points by electriclove 4 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 353 comments



As a consumer, I don't like losing options, but turnabout is fair play.

I'm a Prime subscriber but can't watch Prime videos (TV and movies) on my regular Android device, although if I had an Amazon Kindle device I could watch them there. (And Kindle devices are an Amazon fork of Android, thus benefiting from Google's work.)

When it comes to physical streaming devices, I can use my Prime membership to buy an Amazon Fire TV, but I can't buy an Apple TV or a Google Chromecast. I could understand if Amazon wants to sell only their own device, but they do sell third-party Roku devices ("ships and sold by Amazon.com"), which means they are selectively targeting certain products.

This is pretty clearly a case of Amazon trying to use its leverage to improve its position in the streaming hardware and streaming content markets.


All of this is exactly what the Web is not supposed to be. Users shouldn't need to buy certain hardware to access different parts of the Internet. It's one of the big problems with the appification of the WWW in general.


I don't think the intention was to block access to the web site. The problem was that Amazon was using a proprietary native app to access YouTube videos, bypassing the web site and without support for any of Google's monetisation strategies they have in their own YouTube apps. That's clearly a foul and has nothing to do with the open web.

Arguably Google went too far by blanket blocking based on device, but it might have been the only viable option available to them. Now that Amazon has folded and made the app a wrapper to the YouTube web page rather than accessing the videos directly, I expect Google will enable access again.


Exactly the same thing happened with Windows Phone's Youtube app.

https://www.theverge.com/2013/8/15/4624706/google-blocks-win...

What was Amazon thinking?


They are definitely blocking access to the web site now. First, Google blocked the app because it 'didn't comply with their policies'. Then Amazon changed it so YouTube access from these devices was, essentially, directly through the website. Now that is blocked as well.

Google has a point about Amazon not carrying their devices, but I'd take a different approach - I'd lead every YouTube video played through a Fire device with an ad for Google's devices.


What I find jarring is the asymetry of the effect.

Amazon punishes Google directly as a company: users wanting Google product only have to change the URL in their browser.

Google in return punishes customer having already bought their Amazon device. If the customer uses a Fire stick for intance, the only alternative to have youtube on the tv is to buy another dongle.

The level of fucking with the end customer is disproportionate.


Not true. Amazon punishes me every time I want to cast Amazon video to my Chromecast. I think the two situations are quite analogous.


And Amazon Prime Video punishes me for trying to play video on a device via VGA cable, which they say is not HDCP compatible, therefore they limit it to 480p (when the projector supports HD/1080p).


If this really annoys you, and it would annoy me, you can buy an HDMI splitter that strips HDCP. They run from between $5-$40 depending on whether you trust some no-name brand.


Is that Amazon Prime Video punishing you or the wishes of content copyright holders?


I suppose both. But Netflix works fine.


and the rest of the world just source their content via explicit means. Because they find their time more valuable then a "legal grey area"/"moral high ground"/"doing what is right".


> users wanting Google product only have to change the URL in their browser.

For most customers, that's about as "doesn't work" as it gets.


That's clearly a foul and has nothing to do with the open web.

I disagree. On the "open web", users must have the right to consume the content the way they want to. Or do you also think that adblockers, user styles, and the like are "clearly a foul"?

The fight is understandable, but that's why I'll always choose to consume content using a general-purpose computer instead of these restrictive appliances.


I mean, yes I agree - adblockers are "a foul" In the sense that it's very likely against the content providers wishes. I'm not saying users shouldn't be using them, but don't be surprised if the content provider tries to block access to people who actively avoid any monetization via adblockers.

I'm very open web in concept, but just because I want the web to be open doesn't mean I'm entitled to everyones content for free with no restrictions.

As a content provider, you should be allowed to put whatever restrictions on it that you want - just like the real world. Just keep your restrictions off of my computer. Eg, I DO NOT want to see DRM chips on my PC to protect companies. I am certainly fine with them requiring a DRM specific browser though, I can choose not to go to their site and not to use their browser.


> As a content provider, you should be allowed to put whatever restrictions on it that you want - just like the real world.

In the real world, I can sell you a paper magazine or give it to you for free. I cannot prevent you from ignoring the ads or hiring someone to cut them out with scissors.

If a site wants to require me to pay in order to access it, that's valid. But if they want to say "you must instruct your computer to download and display our ads", that's not valid, IMO.

My browser is an agent that works for me. The server is an agent that works for the site. We should each be free to instruct them as we wish.


I give you a magazine for free with the stipulation that you not cut the ads out; you are correct that I couldn't stop you from doing so with the magazine you currently have but I can certainly refuse to give you another magazine.

// We should each be free to instruct them as we wish.

That's not what you are claiming at all. If the company's server determines you are preventing ads then it is within the company's rights to instruct the server to stop serving your browser content.


> But if they want to say "you must instruct your computer to download and display our ads", that's not valid, IMO.

Why not? I can sell you a video stream without ads for $1. Or I can let you watch it for free with the implicit agreement that you'll watch ads (which will cover the costs of the bandwidth you are using). You want the best of both worlds - you want to watch it for free and not watch any ads. How is that not stealing my bandwidth? If you are going to block the ads, that's fine, but it's your moral obligation to back out of my site and not to consume my bandwidth.


If I mute the TV and go to the bathroom while the commercials play, am I stealing? If I read a magazine and flip past the ads, am I stealing? If I change the channel on the radio on a commercial break, am I stealing?

I understand what you're saying about the producer's dependence on ad revenue. But never before has a media existed where someone could force you to consume advertising against your will.

If you provide content with ads and people decline to look at your ads, you've got a problem with your business model.

And by the way, I don't block ads on, eg, StackOverflow, because the ads are tasteful and useful. But if a site with news articles wants to show me animated, sexually suggestive ads for cheap pharmaceuticals, yes, I'm going to block that. I'm not going to let them steal my bandwidth and my mental calm for that.


Can't reply below, but:

> If you block ads on my website and I detect it, It's fully within my rights to blacklist you for stealing.

Other than the word "stealing", I agree. It's fully within your rights to block or allow access however you want. And it's fully within my rights to decide whether to look at your ads.

You control your server. I control my browser. This is good.


You can mute your computer and go to the bathroom while watching youtube or amazon video. You've lost none of the rights that you had with the tv.

It's a terrible analogy that people should stop using in this debate. You can debate about whether it's good business on their part. You can debate about whether they should force drm onto your computer. But you can't reasonably debate that just because it's on the web they shouldn't be allowed enter into a financial exchange with consumers and that they shouldn't be able to refuse to do business with people who do not wish to enter into that exchange with them.


You can mute your computer and go to the bathroom while watching youtube or amazon video.

...until they find a way to detect whether you actually viewed the ads, or maybe even retained any of the content from them.

But you can't reasonably debate that just because it's on the web they shouldn't be allowed enter into a financial exchange with consumers and that they shouldn't be able to refuse to do business with people who do not wish to enter into that exchange with them.

You're implying that it's OK for consumers to essentially be force-fed ads, if these companies eventually develop such technology that lets them do so. Do you really want to live in such a society?


    You're implying that it's OK for consumers to essentially be force-fed ads
Nowhere did I imply that. I implied that it's ok for consumers to be forced to transact for content in the same way that they are forced to pay for the food at their grocery store.

And yes I am fine living is such a society. I can always choose not to enter into the transaction. No one is forcing me to watch Youtube, Or read a blog, Or listen to a podcast.


> If I mute the TV and go to the bathroom while the commercials play, am I stealing? If I read a magazine and flip past the ads, am I stealing? If I change the channel on the radio on a commercial break, am I stealing?

I think everyone can agree that adblockers go far beyond these examples you listed. Adblockers are an automated, shareable process.

> But never before has a media existed where someone could force you to look at advertising against your will.

Last time I checked nothing is stopping you from muting your computer and going to the bathroom during ads. Like I said, you just want your cake and eat it too. If you block ads on my website and I detect it, It's fully within my rights to blacklist you for stealing.


In most countries you only have the option to watch YouTube for free with ads.


So your options are to watch with ads or not watch. Why is this so hard?

If Walmart only let you "buy" DVDs at the checkout by watching ads that the cashier shows you, how is it okay to just steal the DVDs because you don't want to watch the ads?


Not watching YouTube isn't a realistic option in some cases (e.g. there are jobs where you'd get fired if you refuse to use YouTube, or you need to watch YouTube to be part of a social group).

I can buy DVDs somewhere else, while most Internet videos are only on YouTube nowadays.


Users have the 'right' (and I used that word very lightly) to do such things, but companies and publishers also have the 'right' to respond to things that interfere with their products or business models.


Exactly, the rights go both ways. Just as clients can choose which servers they want to access, servers can decide which clients they want to serve.


I think the difference comes by who is doing it. An end user doing it is their own right. A corporation bypassing another corporations monetization is something they should be permitted to deal with. They are essentially gaining a competitive advantage by bypassing ads for youtube on their own devices, so Google should block them until they comply.


> ...wrapper to the YouTube web page rather than accessing the videos directly, I expect Google will enable access again.

Probably they won't. WebViews don't return device ids amd don't let you set persistent cookies which are basically what's needed to get ad targeting correct on mobile.


They can the webview change code on their platform?


Another example: I can't watch purchased YouTube videos at full resolution on in my Web browser. It tells me that I need to buy a spyware-infested device that doesn't give me full control over the operating system.


This is why I don't like the web in it's current form. It's not anymore about freely sharing information. It is about creating uncopyable 'experiences' and programs in the web. I don't want services I may or may not use. That is not the web I want. Maybe if browsers didn't include JavaScript, the situation would improve. But even the supposedly user-friendly Mozilla is backing JavaScript.


Actually that is why you should like web in current form. Google blocked native youtube app, but kept youtube web accessible from amazon devices. IMO there should not be be proprietary app to access youtube or any other service, if the same experience could be delivered for everybody via web.

If I owned the Youtube, I'll block Amazon too. They're practically taking advantage and not want to give anything back. Don't want to sell google appliances, don't want to participate in youtube ad program. Only word that came to mind is to describe such a attitude is leech.


>Google blocked native youtube app, but kept youtube web accessible from amazon devices.

This is false, the app on the fire tv is simply a webview of https://www.youtube.com/tv that is publicly accessible

They are not doing any, no my knowledge, more than wrapping that page up in a webview


Ok. So finally it's start making sense. Google blocked Amazon access to https://www.youtube.com/tv. So they set webview url to https://www.youtube.com/ instead.

Correct?


Today it is still youtube.com/tv but Google has injected Popup that says the service will be disabled on 1/1/2018 (https://i.redd.it/g8t5z4owv5201.jpg)

I do not know what will happen on 1/1/2018. Redirecting to YouTube main page is likely not a very good option because the UI would be almost unusable on TV. I have seen some people suggesting the Silk Browser as a work around, I have tried it is it not very user friendly and does not work at all with the youtube/tv interface.

I am likely ordering a Roku Today to see if I like them, Amazon is risking alot here, this YouTube situation may be the final straw for me (and many others I suspect). They started putting ads on the FireTV Device, they are spending a crap ton of money to get Sports I have no interest in, now YouTube is pulling out. It seems every day the FireTV ecosystem get worse and worse, time to move on i think


Prior to FireTV we used Roku device branded as nowtv. Someone unlawfully accessed it, either from Roku or with their permission, and disabled side-loading preventing us from using it to view family photos, local media, etc. (with Plex app, as it happens). Shame, the movie package we were buying from nowtv was excellent.

In short Roku and nowtv is dead to me.

Google making FireTV worse means I'm not going to buy Google - I can't endorse that behaviour - so what else is there? Just no-name android devices??

Probably I'll use a hack; presumably using a proxy to mask FireTV, or stripping UA info is going to work.


>Actually that is why you should like web in current form. Google blocked native youtube app, but kept youtube web accessible from amazon devices

From the article:

> Amazon has responded, and its response points to the unfair nature of Google effectively blocking access to the YouTube web site based on the type of device being used to access it. "Echo Show and Fire TV now display a standard web view of YouTube.com and point customers directly to YouTube's existing website," Amazon's statement reads. "Google is setting a disappointing precedent by selectively blocking customer access to an open website. We hope to resolve this with Google as soon as possible."


If you think about it, those statements doesn't make sense.

1. Google effectively blocking access to the YouTube web site based on the type of device being used to access it.

2. Show and Fire TV now display a standard web view of YouTube.com and point customers directly to YouTube's existing website

I understood it, that Google blocked Amazon to access youtube via native app. And Amazon reaction was to switch their youtube app to webview, which basically renders web version of youtube.


I'm glad you and the above poster have said this, I also feel very strongly that the web has been completely trapped by coorporate interests.

I feel like the web as we know it should be abandoned to coorporations and people that want an open platform for knowledge sharing should start something new that has to stay open.


>I also feel very strongly that the web has been completely trapped by coorporate interests.

"corporate interests" haven't trapped the web.

People are choosing to pretend that the web has somehow ceased to exist outside of a few silos, or that javascript has no purpose other than to further corporate or media interests, or that Facebook owns HTML now, but none of that is true. The web is just as open as it's ever been.

Just because mainstream viewing habits tend to converge towards a few corporate owned social media sites does not mean the web has become owned by corporations, it just means people have gotten lazy and don't want to work to discover new content.


This is a joke, right?

We are building drm into the browsers themselves now. We are letting companies tell people that "there is no way to access media, unless you go through our walled garden" and defending the company! The open web is farther gone than it's ever been.


I shouldn't have to point this out to someone on Hacker News but browsers are not the web. Facebook is not the web. Twitter is not the web. Not even Google is the web.

No one is putting a gun to anyone's head and forcing them to use EME when they distribute media, and it certainly will no more be the case that all media will be forced through DRM and a walled garden than it ever was. The companies that will use this are the companies that would have used DRM anyway, just in another form. The web, as a whole, is unaffected.


Wow, I've heard some bad arguments on here, but this one is great. Good work.


The web is fine, the "closed garden" experiences are in native apps ecosystems.


This is the nub of the net neutrality argument for me.

We don't need to "start something different" we just need to ensure that what's there can still be used for both corporations, and the public at large.


The only people who are actually serious about creating alternatives to major social media networks are alt-right (for lack of a better word) who have been banned from these services.

Of all these alternatives, I think bitchute.com is really innovative in that it has a Bittorrent video viewer that solves the bandwidth usage problem by going p2p. Not a lot of stuff on there yet. For now, that site is mostly full of political content that would get banned, or at least demonitized, on YouTube.

I have a hard time getting over the irony that the alt-right are going to be the ones to save the open Internet while the rest of Silicon Valley sits around and does nothing because they need to be protected by the machines of loving grace [1] that are the vast content moderation and filtering apparatus of the major social networks.

1. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Watched_Over_by_Machines...


Bitchute.com is just another centralized system, that happens to offload some of their costs onto their users. Using webtorrent is cute, but no conceptually no different than what early Spotify did. They still control what you're allowed to see.


We need something like BittorrentYouTube. Something that is somewhat indexed, content can be directly linked to, and there's no-one to control what can be there and what can not.

Of course it will be a bit slower at startup times, but it's still faster than a video that has been removed in your country or removed due other arbitrary reasons.


There's nothing to stop you doing all the open platform knowledge sharing on the current web apart from lack of market share of the audience.

How moving to a new, less popular distribution mechanism would make that any better is not clear to me.


Mozilla was co-founded by the creator of JavaScript. Chances are they don't share your opinion regarding it.


I feel differently. For the most part, I still the Web is about freely sharing information - most of the stuff from the good old days of 1998 is still there. However, in addition various companies who otherwise wouldn't put their content on the Web, have to decided to do so, but on the proviso that technology exists that gives them adequate control over how it is distributed.

I don't think that's a particularly bad thing.


This doesn't make sense, I really don't understand this at all.

JavaScript makes the web powerful so more content can be distributed via the Web. Without JavaScript we'd be having much more native apps, not less.

The web runs on any platform with a web browser (for the most part), native apps only run from one platform. Crippling the Web leads to more silos.


Javascript takes control from the client and gives it to the server. This is a terrible idea, that has ruined the web. Are there good sides to JS? sure, but they, by far, don't outweigh the bad.


Nonsense, javascript runs on the client.

No javascript = 100% code runs on the server.


Uh yeah, that's my point. Running code from some random server on your machine without verifying it first is a terrible idea.

We really need to start seeing the internet as a dark and scary place again. There's too much blind trust nowadays.


How much of the code running on your operating system have you verified before compiling it?


A bit. But that's not the point. The point is I can verify it. There's a mountain of difference between the two.


You can verify javascript as well. Most libraries provide their source code and copies of the minified versions that run in your browser, and a lot of javascript isn't even minified.

And unlike everything else running on your machine, Javascript is sandboxed and limited in its capabilities, and you can turn it off if you want to. Try pre-emptively turning off your C++ runtime before booting up. Hell, for that matter, try rewriting your binaries on the fly the way you can override and rewrite javascript in the browser.

Yes, there are potential threats from running javascript, but javascript still relatively less threatening than everything else, including every other kind of executable code that can run from the web, such as java applets, flash and silverlight. I understand you don't like javascript, but you're overstating the malice of forethought behind its application in all but the edge cases.


You can, and I do. But most sites use it in a way that breaks most of the functionality if you don't enable it. This is bad, and encourages bad habits to those that don't know what they are doing.

> Yes, there are potential threats from running javascript, but javascript still relatively less threatening than everything else...

yeah, all of those plain html attacks have been pretty damaging.... oh, wait, there are hardly any, because html makes sense, and is designed with the user in mind. JS is the opposite.

> including every other kind of executable code that can run from the web, such as java applets, flash and silverlight.

Those are shitty too. But just because they are worse, doesn't make JS acceptable.

> I understand you don't like javascript, but you're overstating the malice of forethought behind its application in all but the edge cases.

I'm not overstating the malice of forethought. I get that 99% of JS is by people who want their site to work well, and use it with good intentions. But even good intentions, done wrong, lead to bad results.



And it's only going to get worse now that EME/DRM is a standard spec of HTML. Video platforms will only work on certain DRM platforms.


If anything, this shows how overblown the EME fuss was, given sevices that don't use it (like YouTube) are becoming less interoperable than services that do (like Netflix).


YouTube does use EME for paid content.

Also you have to use a native app for Netflix and if they wanted to, they could also stop supporting Amazon devices at any time. There wouldn't even be a work-around thanks to EME.


You sure YouTube does not use it... Even for the Commerical YouTubeTV Service?


YouTube uses it for the viewing of full movies that you've bought from Google Play but view on the YouTube website. Which is about 0.0000000001% of the content on YouTube and not terribly relevant to this thread.

The YouTube TV service doesn't use EME, no. And isn't terribly relevant to this thread either.


1. It is relevant because the claim was "YouTube does not use it" not that "most of youtube does not use it"

2. I firmly believe now that EME is standard YouTube will start using it, especially as they start rejecting independent creators in favor of more High Budget Commerical Creators and Tradional media whom they already show a preference for. These Companies will demand it just like the big Movie Studios

3. I am not subscribed to YouTube TV service so I can not confirm but do you have a source or technical document showing they do not. I would be shocked if they were allowed to get Commercial deals to carry main stream cable channels and stream then in the clear with no copy protection.


There's a huge irony that Google, who has spent millions of dollars investing in net neutrality supporting organizations and astroturfing 'grassroots' efforts to allegedly protect the open web is blocking users from a website based on the device accessing it for anticompetitive business reasons.


Google Fiber did a similar thing: they initially banned home servers, which was later relaxed a bit to only ban commercial home servers, but regardless it shows Google's hypocrisy regarding neutrality. (Sure they had some rationalization that since they were prohibiting something entirely it wasn't really interfering with net neutrality.)


As a particular hilarity, Google Fiber has repeatedly dodged being classified as a telecom so that it isn't subject to the regulations Comcast and Verizon are.


I agree. To narrow it down, IMO the main problem is breaking interoperability (on both sides). Web is built on open standards to ensure diverse systems can talk to each other. As long as systems comply with well defined interfaces they should be able to communicate.

A company can introduce additional constraints on top to limit access. However this should still be done based on standards. Using a variety of derived properties to block specific device type is evil in my book. My 2c.


None of it is free, you know. Saying "It's not supposed to be this way" isn't an argument.


I mean, instead of buy proprietary devices like Fire Sticks and Chromecasts, you could just connect a computer to your TV, have it all, and call it a day.

Of course, "all" does not include 1080p playback on Netflix unless you use Edge or Safari


You don't. But if you want specialized hardware, that hardware might only access certain parts of the net.


It isn't specialized hardware, it's generalized hardware with a specialized software stack. Nothing prevents you from accessing the content except for business-level decisions. The point was that we want to avoid tangling business decisions with the general purpose hardware.

(Almost everything these days is a general purpose computing device, even our "specialized" hardware is general purpose.)


Depends entirely on what you mean by specialized.

Has a GPU to run games/movies? Fine.

Has an "Amazon" logo so it won't load any Amazon competitor's websites? Bull. Hocky.


I'm a Prime subscriber but can't watch Prime videos (TV and movies) on my regular Android device, although if I had an Amazon Kindle device I could watch them there. (And Kindle devices are an Amazon fork of Android, thus benefiting from Google's work.)

This is so weird and dumb it's unbelievable. There is an Amazon Video app for iPhone and iPad why are they not supporting Android?

There is one for Roku but they have been dragging their feet with supporting the AppleTV even though they promised one "by the end of the year".

They support AirPlay to AppleTV but not ChromeCast.


There is an Android App, just not in Play Store.

https://www.amazon.com/Amazon-com-Amazon-Prime-Video/dp/B00N...

Edit: it is on Play Store apparently. Might changed recently

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.amazon.avo...


I watch fine on my Motorola phone, not sure what they are talking about. Prime Video is well supported on regular Android phones.


When I last had an Android phone, the Prime Video app wasn’t available in the Play Store... you had to side load Amazon’s App Store app in order to download it. Pretty much a giant annoyance.


It's in the Play Store on my S8. Wonder what's going on here...


It was released earlier this year.


Annoying but doable and much easier than rooting


Even with the Prime Video app it does not let you Chromecast which is like :-\


To go a step further, Amazon no longer allows one to buy a Chromecast on Amazon.com. This alone makes me mad at Amazon.


And the reason they used to give is that "Chromecast doesn't support Amazon Prime Video and that's confusing for users" - well guess whose decision that was?


Same thing with the Apple TV. And they apparently said that Apple wouldn't let their app into the store which is BS, since they already have an app for Prime Video for iOS.


That's misleading to say the best! It's clearly the other way round and should be told that way.


Amazon also has a weird bureaucracy regarding where they ship to/from their Amazon Fire devices

the "standard" one just ships to certain countries, the "basic" one only ships from certain places to certain other places


Plus when you search for a Chromecast you get a Fire stick. Amazon is in the wrong here and glad to see Google push back.


While it doesn't support streaming the video directly to a Chromecast, if you don't mind burning your battery you can stream the whole screen of the device to the Chromecast.


You cannot any more. There is some kind of piracy protection that prevents it. I tried streaming the marvelous Mrs maisel to Chromecast via fullscreen recently and you can't see any video when you do, only audio.


The Prime Video for Android app is really young, it released literally 3 months ago.


The app isn't that recent, it just only was made available on the Play Store; it used to be exclusive to the Amazon App Store, which had to be sideloaded.


I've had a Prime Video app on my Android devices for years...


sigh The app itself isn't even remotely new. The only new part is that it's listed on Google's app store as well as Amazon's.


It has been in Play Store for at least a year, but it was georestricted - not available in US.

I installed it from there on my devices when Prime Video launched worldwide in Dec 2016.


The app itself has been available (in US,UK, and DE) since September 2014, though [1]. And that was the purpose of my original reply, since B-Con said "The Prime Video for Android app is really young, it released literally 3 months ago."

[1] https://techcrunch.com/2014/09/09/amazon-brings-prime-instan...


They are supporting android. There is an Amazon Video app for android. You just have to use the 'Amazon Underground' app to install it. I use it all of the time.


Well they cut it close but they did finally release an app for the AppleTV "by the end of the year"

https://sixcolors.com/post/2017/12/amazon-prime-video-now-av...


I have an nvidia shield and have the amazon prime app, it works fine, though it took a while to get 4k support.

So there is at least an amazon video app on android in general, if it can't be on the google store I don't know.


That's a special deal they have with Nvidia for that particular device.


I've had Amazon video and music apps on my Android devices ever since I got prime, and they've worked without a problem. I mean, aside from not working with chromecast (but I don't do that often anyhow).

Maybe they've got a deal with Amazon to pre-load the app? I did sideload the Amazon app store.


Each Android TV OEM has to have a separate agreement to permit use of the app. So far only Sony and Nvidia have done so. The sideloaded version doesn't work on other devices.


Ah, so you're just talking about Android TV devices? I thought that the Shield was a kind of portable game system, and that it might obey the same "rules" as phones do.


Probably weird posturing...

The iOS app works, but you can't purchase from it (I speculate because Apple would get a cut). Same goes for the Kindle app.



> I'm a Prime subscriber but can't watch Prime videos (TV and movies) on my regular Android device

What are you talking about? Either in a browser or via https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.amazon.avo... - both are working fine, even on systemless rooted android.


> (And Kindle devices are an Amazon fork of Android, thus benefiting from Google's work.)

You can't call something open source and get all the benefits of that, while also allowing statements like this. Forking is fair play in open source, and if you don't like it, don't make your thing open source.


Pretty sure that his point in bringing that up isn't to say that what they are doing is unethical from a FOSS point of view, but rather he was making the point that it is entirely within Amazon's technical prowess to make their content available on Android devices


I think the addition of the phrase, "thus benefiting from Google's work", refutes an interpretation of purely technical capability. If that phrase had been omitted, I would be in agreement with you and would have had no reason to comment.


> [...] if you don't like it, don't make your thing open source.

Or you use the GPL license instead of Apache.


>I'm a Prime subscriber but can't watch Prime videos (TV and movies) on my regular Android device

FYI, Amazon finally released their app on the US Play Store a couple of months ago. Not that this excuses all their other crappy behavior, and the years it took for them to finally do the right thing.


However, Prime Video is a paid service that has never been publicly accessible so its users know what they are getting into. It seems more inflammatory to me for Google to block access to a YouTube app, particularly one that Amazon apparently created for their own devices. The two don't seem equivalent.

That being said, Amazon (I believe) started this duel with stopping sales of various Google devices on their website.


But can I cast it on my TV? I don't want to watch a movie on my phone, I want it on my TV...


I believe Google started this specific fight by not allowing devices on Amazon's fork of Android to have support for controlling a Chromecast. Even if they used Google's fork, they would be required to include various competing Google apps.


Nope. If you want something plug-and-play your best bet right now is a Roku. Around these parts I suspect Media Center PCs are popular too but you're limited by the browser (or what native apps are available).

This spat is dumb.


The issue is not really who blocked which app or who didn't sell what. The issue is that when a retail store delisting a product can cause market damaging competition problems, then that retailer has become a monopoly. Retailer, manufacturer or marketplace? You can't be all three. It is time to break up Amazon.


>I'm a Prime subscriber but can't watch Prime videos (TV and movies) on my regular Android device, although if I had an Amazon Kindle device I could watch them there.

You've been able to do this for at least 3 years. Not one-step-you're-done-easy, but officially supported with no magic incantations required: https://www.theverge.com/2014/9/9/6126165/amazon-prime-insta...


You also can't chromecast from Amazon Prime video app.


Does https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.amazon.avo... not work for you? What android do you have?


Is this new? Last time I looked a few months back I don't remember finding this.


Looks like it was added at the end of August.

200,000 reviews over that time is a lot.


It's been available in non-US markets for a lot longer, which explains the number of reviews.


That package name is relevant enough to be mildly amusing.


Oh, the situation has changed then! Thanks for the correction.


Talking about turnabout, there's also this:

http://www.cordcuttersnews.com/amazon-pulls-twitch-channel-r...


> I'm a Prime subscriber but can't watch Prime videos (TV and movies) on my regular Android device

Why not? I regularly watch Prime Video on Android.


I'd like to be able to cast Amazon Prime Videos (which are part of my Prime membership) to my TV using my Chromecast.


I'm a Prime subscriber and can watch amazon prime videos on my Android Device. You should check the play store again.


I'm from India and I can watch Prime on my OnePlus 3 Android phone. Not being able to watch, is it a US thing? I don't get it.


I can use the amazon app on Android to watch prime videos just fine. Casting to chromecast qith localcast app. So what are you all talking about?


This is not true. There's a Prime app on Android, available through Google's Play Store. Works fine for me.


Every time i open google-owned website in the Edge browser i get popup telling me to download or install Chrome

But I already have Chrome installed and use Chrome 90% of the time. I just find fantastically irritating to be badgered every time i don't use it. Now i see they are upping the ante and disabling accessing services because of corporate rivalry...

Amazon/Apple/Google are all engaging in this kind of passive aggressive low-level battle where they use their own consumers as weapons to fight each other and its a method that unfortunately works

I just hope that there will be some kind of backlash against this practice in the future, but given the level of Amazon-Apple-Google fanboism going around i'm really doubting it..


Microsoft is also part of this battling, if you use chrome, and oh well try to search some windows api doc help on microsoft site, there will be "Try edge now! its faster than chrome".

Actually when you reinstall windows10, and open up browser, the first thing the browser does, is show some marketing about how much faster edge is than chrome and firefox.


The browser thing was really just to illustrate a starting point. I was going to mention Microsoft in the same breath, but Microsoft isn't important because they are kinda lost in the consumer space i feel.

And surprisingly Microsoft hasn't actually limited me with the apps i can use, services or buying physical products with

Today you have the closed-app store system's, restricted services to preferential devices and not even being able to buy products from one of the world largest outlets. They do this because in the past these companies have gained loyalty and now use that loyalty like cattle funneling customers away from competitors


It's not just "now". They've been blocking features outside of Chrome for years. Just simple user-agent check to disable something here and there and show an ad.


This has long being the case for Opera browser in Presto age (before they switched to Chromium), but when Firefox' market share started to shrink considerably Google started giving them the same Opera treatment.

It's especially annoying for desktop versions of Google web offerings. When asked about it Google cite "low market share" as a reason for lack of support, but if one excludes mobile browsers FF still has a very respectable userbase on desktops.

And yes, just as in Opera days a User Agent switch magically lets you in and everything continues to work.

I honestly don't get why they continue with these practices. Chrome quickly approaches a monopoly position in browser space, and there are precedents what happens after. Besides, Mozilla and Google often align their interests in various standards groups and together push a common agenda for Web technology progress. I don't see why Google treats Mozilla as an enemy.


With old Presto Opera there was a valid stance of "it might not work and we are not going to test it". But with current Opera, or Vivaldi, and I'm sure many others, it should just work, since they are all Chromium based.

By the way, fun fact, old Opera had huge "compatibility" javascript where they fixed either general or specific issues that were result of developers not caring about the browser. Opera had over 50% share in certain markets at the time.


To be fair, there's no way for the website to know you already have Chrome installed. The annoying popup is just bad UX.


It's called competition...


Amazon started this fight by blocking sales of Apple TV and Chromecasts on Amazon.com. That really should have attracted some anti trust concerns. Other companies deciding to fight back is perfectly legitimate.


Yeah I was shocked to read a different article that appeared to blame Google for their action. Seems like Amazon asked for this one. I was just thinking the other day how weird it is they don't sell Apple TV.


What? Am I insane? Why don't Google take legal action? What it's doing now is completely barbaric.

And Google supports Net Neutrality too. Isn't what it is doing exactly opposite to the spirit of Net Neutrality?

Just because your opponent did something bad, doesn't mean it's ok to sink to their level.


You can't take legal action against a store for its refusal to sell your products...


I'm not a lawyer, but I'm pretty sure you can if you can prove to the court that the behaviour is anti-competitive. Amazon being so dominant in the web retail space makes that argument easier.


That's an interesting thought to compare such things to traditional brick-and-mortar situations.

A store that dominates its market tends to cause competing stores to close. Which creates the problem in that customers get fewer choices in stores to buy products. This would create the possibility that a dominate store would take steps to cause the competition to shut down; such as price dumping or other unethical things.

But that problem doesn't happen on the web. There's absolutely nothing Amazon could do to prevent Google from selling their product on their own site. I mean, price dumping could still be an issue but it seems no one considers that one anymore. So how can it be proven that Amazon is anti-competitive by refusing to sell a product on their site that competes directly with one of their products sold on their site? Especially when the competitor has no barrier created by Amazon to prevent them from selling the product on their own site?

After all, to be fair, shouldn't I be able to purchase an Amazon product on Google's site?


I would wager that Amazon is pretty safe on this one. Some quick googling suggests that Amazon has less than 20% market share in consumer electronics. They're the biggest player, but there are lots of other big players (Walmart, Target, Best Buy).

I'm pretty sure you need a lot more market share than that before any judge is going to rule your behavior as anti-competitive.


I am no expert, but maybe the have calculated the price and etc, and came to the conclusion of blocking Youtube on Amazon platform would be cheaper option for them than for example going to legal battle with Amazon. Isn’t this a possibility?


A monopoly


Amazon has a monopoly on electronics retail sales? I doubt that.


I'm not a lawyer, but as far as I understand it antitrust law/regulators don't really make the distinction of whether a company has a full-blown monopoly. What primarily matters is whether they either exercise monopoly power (e.g. raise prices or reduce product/service value without commensurate loss of sales to competitors) or engage in anticompetitive practices intended to drive competitors out of the market (predatory pricing/dumping, tying products across different markets, exclusivity agreements, refusing to sell to a company in one market because they're a competitor in another market).


In terms of pricing power for electronics I don't see it at this point. There are too many opportunities for shoppers to go elsewhere and everything gets arbitraged away via eBay extremely quickly.

That said, I also think that regulators should keep a close eye on what's going on in online retail, particularly when it comes to specific sections of the market like books/publishing.


Isn't it trying to become one + behaving like one?


You are assuming Google wasn't on that level for almost a decade.


Google should respond by blocking Amazon in their search results. Then Amazon will really see who gets hurt the most.


While certainly effective, it would also be a good way to paint Google as the villain in this matter. It's childish, irrational behaviour in my opinion.


Childish? All that Amazon will listen to. Amazon anti competitive behavior is out of hand. They have now pulled Twitch from the Roku.

Google should do what Amazon does and when search for a Fire give the person a chromecast.


They already have the villain image. Doesn't matter though, as everyone is forced to use their services anyway.


Better yet - Google Maps should change the directions when someone is navigating to an Amazon office to end up at a sewage treatment plant instead


What's going on with HN??


Content quality decreases as popularity increases. HN is about to go full Tumblr / Digg / reddit.


People have been saying that since I started reading HN in 2010. It still hasn't happened.


> It still hasn't happened.

No, not in general, but have you seen the comments on this story? I wouldn't call them stellar and well thought.


A retailer not carrying one item, is different from a search engine blocking results.


The problem isn't Amazon retailer not carrying the Chromecast, it's Amazon marketplace refusing to let any retailers carry the Chromecast. A lot uglier IMHO


Why? Search is a service provided by a company trying to make money, just as a retailer.

Just because it's an invaluable service now core to using the internet, doesn't make it a public utility.

Here's the actual difference:

If Google started blocking Amazon search results there would be an upoar.

Amazon has blocked selling certain Google items, and there is barely a whimper.

Here's the other difference: When GOogle shows Amazon search results, and users go through those results to make an Amazon purchase, Google gets a cut. That's how e-commerce works on the internet.


> Why? Search is a service provided by a company trying to make money, just as a retailer.

I don't have any horses in this race, so I am not trying to take anybody's side, but since you ask, here is my opinion:

A retailer is by default selecting what items to sell.

A search engine is by default crawling everything.

So one is kind of opt-in and the other opt-out.


That's what a search engine should be. Google has strayed far away from that already.


A search engine can simply not crawl Amazon's sites.


This will break the search integrity that Google says it upholds(leaving out government and DMCA requests)


Just treat them in the same way; integrity upheld.

In response to a competitor being a big meanie, we have removed 1 result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read about why they smell in our blog.


Google has 63.9% market share. That's way more risky.

They already got in trouble with the European union for promoting their own sites in search due to their market share.


The damage done to Amazon would benefit them a lot more than the laughable fine from the EU would hurt.


Consider that the width and depth of Google's anticompetitive violations is already massive, and increasing. The EU's record-breaking fine against Google was the first of three.

There is a point where the EU may have to take steps beyond fines, and bar Google from doing business in... effectively, an entire continent. I don't know where that point is, but if a company doesn't really care about the fines for it's illegal activity and continues to violate the law, you've got to escalate.

And that wouldn't just impact Google's global profits, but it'd likely entail shutting down multiple Google offices in multiple countries, and if their employees weren't interested in immigrating to another country, they'd potentially lose a lot of talent as well.


> The EU's record-breaking fine against Google was the first of three.

I just had a look at Alphabet's stock graph from this year. I couldn't tell from it when the fine happened. So I guess they can afford another two of those.

> There is a point where the EU may have to take steps beyond fines, and bar Google from doing business in... effectively, an entire continent.

I doubt that we're anywhere near that point. Google is way too important, I also guess that the population wouldn't like everything-Google gone.

Google could even threaten to brick all Android phones in the EU, no one would risk that.


Considering that most Android phones are built and sold by other companies, can you possibly imagine Google surviving as a company through that? Consider that if Google was to brick Android phones in the EU, Samsung, HTC, LG, Motorola, etc. would all immediately drop their platforms, globally? And not just those corporations would be suing, but carriers who sold the affected phones in every country applicable as well. Carriers in other countries like the US would also shift away from selling products that Google could arbitrarily brick.

At risk of losing their data due to a legal fight, everyone would migrate their email away from Gmail. Businesses would transfer away from G Suite.

Google would never even threaten to brick all Android phones, because even threatening it would likely put them out of business.


I meant this in case of this:

> There is a point where the EU may have to take steps beyond fines, and bar Google from doing business in... effectively, an entire continent.

If Google couldn't do any business in the EU, they would be going out of business anyway. So they might as well leave with a bang ;)


I don't agree with that. The US market remains Google's primary moneymaker, and of course, their headquarters. And beyond every other continent except Europe, they're investing heavily in taking over India right now.

I mean, sure, their stock price would probably crater if they got kicked out of the EU, but they've got half a trillion dollars lying around, it's not like they're actually in need of money.

But such a outright hostile act as you suggest would lose them every partner and resource they have on a global scale.


Good point, I think you're right that Google could never do that.

The same applies for the EU though: It would be quite a hostile act to ban Google from doing any business in the EU, so I think this won't happen either.


Agree that until Amazon behaves should remove from search. Also remove from play store. Amazon has now pulled Twitch from the Roku and their anti competitive behavior needs to be checked. Enough is enough.


Or Google should do what Amazon does and when you search on a Fire give you a chromecast.


This would be way worse for google than amazon.


Google has all the leverage. Amazon already used what they had by banning Chromecast from their store.

Google could remove Amazon app from play store. Or remove Amazon from search. Or change terms of Android that Amazon uses for the Fire and Echo.


Is Wal-Mart also obliged to carry their competitors' brands? It's weird how when tech companies start getting big, they seem to graduate to this almost-but-not-quite-common-carrier-status where they're sort of a private company and sort of a public service.


Walmart is not a marketplace (edit: at least in store. Online they have a marketplace). Anybody can sign up and sell on Amazon, and they can sell anything with some exceptions. One of those exceptions is chromecasts or apple tvs.


Even then it was tit-for-tat. According to Amazon, they no longer sold AppleTV due to Apple refusing to have an Amazon Video App on AppleTV unless Amazon met Apple's terms.


Apple has those terms for everyone, Amazon wasn't singled out.


Negotiating terms is standard process for companies.


> Blocking sales of Apple TV and Chromecasts on Amazon.com

Did they block them, or do they simple not carry them? It is completely different.


Amazon blocked sales of Apple and Google streaming devices some years ago and was discussed heavily on HN.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10312938


It's blocked. Nobody is allowed to sell them even as a third party on Amazon.


Could you explain the difference? Are you saying that Google specifically doesn't want their product on Amazon, because that would be insane.


1. Blocking sales, is Google or somebody else trying to open a merchant account to sell Google products and Amazon blocking them.

2. Not carrying them, is Amazon simply not having an interest in carrying the item as a retailer.

Aren't they two completely different things?


Both are true.

No-one, Amazon directly or Marketplace resellers, is allowed to sell Chromecast on Amazon.


Plus give you a Fire stick when search on a chromecast.


Well, Amazon directly is allowed. They just don't want to ;)


Blocked and then gave you a Fire stick when search on a chromecast.


Amazon blocked them. Amazon anti competitive behavior is finally being checked by Google.


Google actually made the first anticompetitive move against Amazon, but everyone forgot it, because Google is really good at PR.


Which one was that? Any citation?


Google's Mobile Applications Distribution Agreement, or MADA, is a license requirement for access to any of Google's Android apps, including the app that actually is required to set up devices like the Chromecast.

The MADA has anticompetitive terms, not just prohibiting signatories from developing Android forks, like Fire OS, but requiring any devices with Google apps include all of Google's mandatory apps, including many apps which compete directly with Amazon's own offerings. In short, it is not reasonably possible for Amazon to sign the MADA.

Amazon is therefore blocked from offering apps like the Chromecast app to set up Chromecasts for use with their hardware. Just as Apple does not sell hardware in it's stores which don't work with their devices, and Google does not sell hardware on their site which doesn't work with their devices, Amazon chose to not sell products which don't work with their devices.


This not why Amazon will not do Chromecast support. Amazon is anti competitive and now pulled Twitch from the Roku.

Big Amazon customer but their behavior hurts all of tech and hope Google can straighten them out.

Google has a lot of leverage and Amazon has none as they used what they had by banning Chromecast in their marketplace.

Google should have removed the Amazon app from the play store the day Amazon started the anti competitive behavior.

Google could block their services from the Echo. Amazon is now using Chrommium for their browser and do something here. Fire is really Android and an option.

I get Google wanted to take the high road but Amazon needs to be forced to behave and hope Google has the balls to force it and we get Twitch back on the Roku.

BTW, Google came out with the chromecast 2013 and then added the YT app to the Roku or the opposite of Amazon behavior.

http://www.cordcuttersnews.com/amazon-pulls-twitch-channel-r... Amazon Pulls Their Twitch Channel from Roku - Cord Cutters News


Just to clarify, does this mean Amazon has no feasible way if adding support to control a Chromecast from their devices (e.g. Kindle Fire)?


My understanding is that you can cast to a Chromecast from a Kindle device if the app implements such a capability, but that you need either the Chromecast app (barred from Amazon devices) or the Chrome web browser (also barred from Amazon devices) in order to set up a Chromecast.

Ergo, you can't buy an Amazon device, buy a Chromecast, and get them to work together without another outside device. And there is no technical reason for this limitation.


Plus Amazon hijacked someone search on Amazon for a Chromecast and gave them a fire stick. Hope Google can set Amazon right.


If it were the youtube app or API then I would agree. But Google is blocking youtube.com based on the user-agent. That seems wrong.


One more reason that the user-agent has to go.


>"We've been trying to reach agreement with Amazon to give consumers access to each other's products and services," a Google spokesperson said in a statement. "But Amazon doesn't carry Google products like Chromecast and Google Home, doesn't make Prime Video available for Google Cast users, and last month stopped selling some of Nest's latest products. Given this lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting YouTube on Echo Show and FireTV. We hope we can reach an agreement to resolve these issues soon."

How is this even allowed? Is there any law on this type of stuff? Meaning as a consumer who is essentially held hostage?

I have seen cable networks do this with channels, but never this.


The correct solution is an anti-trust investigation into Amazon. Not carrying or supporting competitors TV boxes is a clear restraint of trade when Amazon Prime gives you a near monopoly on e-commerce for a huge block of customers.


I really wouldn't use the word "monopoly" to describe it when anyone with the ability to buy these things from Amazon can just as easily buy them from Apple or Google's online stores.


Wouldn't the same logic have applied to Microsoft when they delivered IE pre-installed?

If MS was abusing it's market dominance then, so is Amazon now.


The Key difference was MS was an effective Monopoly in their market with something like 90+% of the market share

Amazon is big, but still is only about 36-40% of the e-commerice market share, and far far less of the over all retail Market Share which is still dominated by Wal-Mart


The problems Microsoft had at the time went way beyond having IE already installed with Windows. Besides, without IE already installed the casual computer user would have a more difficult time downloading a competing browser.


I'm not sure it is. You start off in a position where you don't have the device, and you either go to website A or website B to buy it (leaving aside details where you already may have an Amazon account).

With the IE case, you start off in a position where you already have a browser and you have to perform an extra step to get a different one.


> leaving aside details where you already may have an Amazon account

This ignores the most salient part of the whole scenario.


So does an Apple store have to carry Chromecast and fire TV?


...you can just buy it from Apple or google's sites, best buy, newegg, etc. Amazon is not a monopoly by any means necessary.


Completely off topic, so I apologise in advance, but you have an extra word on the end of that sentence. "necessary" isn't... er... necessary there.


It pisses me off that Amazon doesn't support chromecast, but is it really their responsibility just because google wants them to implement their feature that they do?


> Is there any law on this type of stuff?

It's too bad Americans don't have some sort of organization that could protect American consumers from companies like Amazon and Google who are breaking antitrust laws in this manner.

It sure would be nice if we had some some sort of commission on trade at the federal level, to enforce the law and fight for the rights of citizens.

A crazy idea, I know, but one can dream.


Like a federal trade commission?! Brilliant!


It's actually worse than that. I thought Google didn't support some YouTube API access Amazon was using. But no, Google is selectively blocking access to the website:

> "Echo Show and Fire TV now display a standard web view of YouTube.com and point customers directly to YouTube's existing website," Amazon's statement reads. "Google is setting a disappointing precedent by selectively blocking customer access to an open website.

Google is saying Amazon customers can't view one of their websites. That's as anti-web as you can get.

I understand Google is angry at Amazon, and maybe has good reason, but it crossed a dangerous line here.


I concur. Google selectively blocks access for no temporary technical reason to a competitor out of spite or for profit. This is kind of hypocritical if you consider at the same they fight against the net neutrality fiasco (it is a fiasco, yes, among other things). If ISPs get it their way and repeal net neutrality, they will effectively apply the same treatment and reasoning against us, citizens and consumers, and against Google. So I find the timing of this post to be ironic at best. Of course the latter case has greater impact, but Google strides towards that freedom of access violation here.

In a kind of similar tune: Netflix some time now refuses to run on Firefox on non Windows/Mac OS platforms. They claimed originally DRM issues, which was not the case.

I am not sure if you can bypass the block in this case by altering the application's agent entry (which you can do in the case of netflix).


Netflix actually works fine now, and has for a few months.


If by "fine", you mean in a limited capacity at best after you allow DRM to execute closed off code on your machine, then yes, it runs "fine".


the sad/bad part is that it's only 720p.

1080p only works on chrome on chromeos, edge and safari. while 4k only works on edge.

https://help.netflix.com/en/node/23742


As per http://variety.com/2017/digital/news/google-blocks-youtube-f...

"However, a source familiar with YouTube’s thinking told Variety Tuesday that this newer implementation also violated YouTube’s terms of service by layering voice control onto a web app that wasn’t designed for voice interaction."


>How is this even allowed? Is there any law on this type of stuff?

Well bob, it's called DRM and DMCA.

Don't want it? Stop buying products that use it. Richard Stallman was right. Again.


No it isn't. YouTube is just blocking on the basis of User Agent and JavaScript fingerprinting.


The DMCA could definitely be relevant. It mandates[0] that "No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title." IANAL, but one could argue that YouTube (or large parts of it) are protected under copyright law, and that the user agent check is "a technological measure that effectively controls access" to it/them.

"(A)to “circumvent a technological measure” means to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright owner; and (B)a technological measure “effectively controls access to a work” if the measure, in the ordinary course of its operation, requires the application of information, or a process or a treatment, with the authority of the copyright owner, to gain access to the work."[1]

[0]: (a)(1)(A) https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/1201 [1]: https://www.law.cornell.edu/definitions/uscode.php?def_id=17...


It's interesting that both of these giant very much support net neutrality but have no problem balkanizing the internet via hardware.


All of the big corporate net neutrality supporters are universal hypocrites about blocking anything they don't like when it suits them. If you take a look at the history of: Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Twitter they've all done it at various times.

The comical turn of control that Twitter instituted around their APIs for example. Oh, Twitter likes to control its own service and network? Big surprise right.

If Comcast should be semi-nationalized into a heavily regulated public good, then why shouldn't every major web company be similarly nationalized? From Yelp to Zillow to Dropbox to Airbnb to Uber to Lyft to the giants like Google. These are big companies, what's the moral basis to force a telecom carrier to obey a net neutrality concept, but to not force huge services like Twitter or Snapchat to have to operate their own services on a strictly wide open basis such that they're barred from restricting or throttling any connections to their services? Why shouldn't all Internet services be forced by law to provide fully open API access to all of their non-sensitive data, with zero restrictions and throttling? They shouldn't be allowed to discriminate in any manner on the ability to access their data. It's an entirely arbitrary line being drawn, derived from subjective bias of the supporters.

With these companies it's always do what I say and not what I do.


Of all of the companies you listed, only Comcast needed to obtain the right to dig a trench through much of the private and public property in America prior to doing business. In exchange for that right, they accepted many regulatory burdens (often very explicitly in contracted negotiations with various levels of government), and should be accepting of future regulatory burdens as well.


But all company need right to do business, and for that they accept many regulatory burdens, like taxes, employment laws, PII laws which are different at country state and industry and company size level. So not unprecedented to have laws for web companies.


There is a word for that: hypocrites


Hypocrisy at is finest. Device neutrality should be a thing.


Here is what I don't understand:

If Amazon can block Google products from their marketplace, can't Google also block Amazon from showing in the search results?

If blocking Amazon from search results falls under anti-trust laws, why doesn't the first one fall under same laws?


Amazon is not a monopoly, Google is. Retail is ENORMOUS and even in the area of online retail, which is still only a minor segment of all retail sales, Amazon still only has something like 30-50% marketshare depending on the type of good/week of the year. There is no "search" outside of the Web and google controls 90%+ of it.


Not sure why you're being downvoted, you're correct


You don't have to be a monopoly to illegally use market power in one market to influence a different one. It all comes down to the lawyers.


They probably can but that will be next level escalation. Amazon is one of the biggest spenders on Google ads and Google drives a lot of traffic to Amazon, so this will materially hurt both companies. I don't see that happening very soon.


I wouldn't think so. Google got a $2.7B fine for showing shopping ads in search results, because it was an "illegal advantage". They would almost certainly say the same thing about deleting Amazon search results.

https://www.recode.net/2017/6/27/15878980/europe-fine-google...


> If blocking Amazon from search results falls under anti-trust laws, why doesn't the first one fall under same laws?

Market share.

Amazon has less than 20% of the consumer electronics market share. Google has more than 80% of the search market share. It makes a real difference. No one cares if a small store with no market share refuses to sell something. Amazon is big enough that there's some concern, but 20% to 80% is a big difference.


Yes Google should block Amazon since they blocked Google. Amazon has now pulled Twitch from the Roku. Amazon anti competitive behavior needs to be checked and good to see Google finally pushing back.


I wonder if amazon can pull Microsoft into this, Google refused to provide native client to Windows phones, and users had to use crappy web app. If I remeber correctly Google wouldn't even let MS pay for native client development.


Funny thing here, for me, is that the first time I ever rented a movie on Google play was because Amazon would not stream over Chromecast. They're shooting themselves in the foot for nothing.


Same here. I had a movie available to me on Prime but I couldn't broadcast it to Chromecast and I didn't want to watch it on the small phone screen, so I had to buy it on YouTube.


Owning both a Chromecast and a FireTv, I feel knowledgeable enough to say just buy a third party device to stream on.

While Amazon and Google Duke it out, they both want to gain market share, so the only way you can see everything is to go to someone else.

Know anyone who wants a used Chromecast or FireTv? :)


I don't want to be the obnoxious person saying "Stallman told you so", but ... well ... we should all know by now what happens when companies sell you devices that are under their control and not yours.

These devices are not designed to respect your wishes or freedoms. They are not designed to empower you. They are designed to keep you within a strictly limited set of options. You do not really "own" it and it does not owe you its allegiance; it acts in the best interests of its manufacturer, not you.


chromecast is fantastic though. i can just throw on any tab i'm browsing onto it and control it using google assistant.

firetv is kinda trash though yeah


And really, other than Amazon Video, everything else works perfectly fine. Netflix, Youtube, HBO, Plex, etc.


If you actually want an interface and a remote, the Fire TV is typically a much better value than competing Android TV products.


The actual hardware is fine, I've had one for two or three years and it's perfect.


This is why I use Dropbox. It may not be tightly integrated into Gmail or Office or iOS or Amazon something, but it works with everything.


Google also blocked a proper YouTube app for Windows Phone. They even took out the YouTube App that Microsoft implemented themselves because it used "non-public APIs", IIRC. They never provided an official app.


The Microsoft app cut out advertising and allowed videos to be downloaded in breach of YouTube's music licenses. It wasn't a huge surprise Google blocked it. Still not quite sure what Microsoft were thinking there.


Yeah, this actually sucks hard because WP pretty much died since it had no apps. Technically it was a viable phone.

Now if Google can block their major apps for a behemoth like MS, imagine what they can do to some smaller companies.


Google blocked Youtube on Windows Phone 7. Odds are it didn't affect you at the time.


Google blocked it because Microsoft added in a feature that would skip the ads that play before vidoes. This broke Google's TOS, so Google revoked Microsoft's key.


Youtube would not work in Windows Phone 7's version of Internet Explorer either. Odds are it didn't affect you at the time.


Didn't they also block other services, like Google Maps, too? (IIRC there were webview wrapper apps that faked the user-agent.)


I think Maps was still usable through the browser unlike YouTube. And I don't think there was ever an official Maps app. At the time Microsoft's own maps were about as good...or rather Maps was often equally bad in equally surprising ways.


It wasn't working. At least on my device MS edge became super buggy and unusable whenever I went to maps.


Was youtube still flash based at the time? If so then that would make sense.


It had been serving it the WP7 app until Google started blocking it. At the same time Google blocked the WP7 browser on YouTube. There was nothing technical. Google was still serving up YouTube videos to iPhones.


Customers could really benefit if YouTube has some competition


Can we do the same things for ourselves? In other words, is there a website that can scrape my identity off of Google/Amazon/Facebook/Twitter. I dont want them using me as their data/content to make a profit.

Or perhaps going forward the solution is simpler. Make a script that generates a false and impossible identity for every website I visit.

Randomize my name,email, birth date, gender, location, ip address, browser cookies for every socket that a browser opens.


Using incognito mode and not logging in to sites should be enough to remove most of that information you list.

Incognito mode shares information across tabs, and until you restart it. I think there are extensions that will make the identity change per tab (at least for Firefox if not Chrome).

If you don't want cookies shared over time within a tab you can disable the cookies, but this will render much of the web unusable.

IP address is the tricky part. TOR will work for this. I think there are VPN services that let you periodically reset your IP.

So, yeah, we can definitely do this for ourselves. The tools already exist.


I can watch YouTube just fine on my HTPC, because it's a real general-purpose computer that I fully control. I get to decide exactly how I want to consume content.

Buy a locked-down appliance, get a locked-down experience dictated by whatever the corporations want.


Until Google blocks the user agent for your preferred browser from viewing youtube.


But since it's a general computing device, he can simply change the agent.


Isn't this sort of like anti-net neutrality.


Yeah it’s funny how the content and service providers want to control the entire internet when they’ve proven countless times to abuse their power and regulate legal content that is not of their liking.

If YouTube decides to start blocking certain devices from its servers, ISPs can at least retaliate, in a free market and throttle their connection to pressure them to stop uncompetitive practices. Since the ISPs must consider the interests of their customers.

Right now there is no check and balance on these behemoth technology companies and they appear to be acting above the law.


I feel like goog's best case outcome is everything open. They want amazon to sell their stuff, support their users, and they want to support Amazon too. But when one side is playing hard-ball for years, at some point you have to do something.


> Since the ISPs must consider the interests of their customers.

Hahahahahaha

That's a good one!


You see Google supports net neutrality but only for the ISPs, the companies who actually built the infrastructure. But even though YouTube is a massive monopoly, they will easily block your account if you say anything they don't like, or they will block YouTube from competitors devices like in this article.


As commented above (just saw your comment):

Yes. And the timing is ironic. If one trusts Google (or any other company in that matter -- have no delusions in the matter) to guide them toward utopia or show them the right way to democracy, they are up for a surprise.


what is net neutrality? Any thing that benefits google. What is not net neutrality? Anything that hurts google.

War is peace and the only monopolies to fear are the ISPs.


I am so scared at the direction things are going. Vendor lock in, DRM, anti neutrality...

I should be able to use a laser to project a video on the back of I spoon if it's the way I want to watch it.


Ironically, both of these firms are strong advocates for "net neutrality" while they practice such childish behavior.

My personal view as a user of both companies' hardware and software is that Amazon is taking the lead. I bought a Fire TV a few weeks ago and it comes with a remote and turns any monitor into a useful, standalone entertainment device.

I also have a chromecast, which requires an app to stream (and the streaming tends to freeze or hang and frequently gets confused if you try to stream something from a different app while another stream has hung).

I also bought a $29 Kindle Fire that strongly outperforms my $200+ Nexus 7. When Google started getting into the hardware market I was hoping we'd see affordable, subsidized hardware, but instead we're getting high priced "luxury" phones which happen to be a bit cheaper than those sold by the market leader.

Of the two companies, I think Amazon has a strategy that is poised to take the lead in hardware. I say this after also buying a BLU Amazon ad-supported phone for $59 that has a super large screen and performs somewhere between an iPhone 5 and iPhone 6+ (I bought it a year ago).

One nice thing about the Alphabet reorganization is that we can see how hard this sort of competitive landscape is really hitting Google. We've already seen lots of free tier services getting taken away and many other signs of lower margins, and so the threat to block Youtube feels like an admission of weakness.

Also, FWIW, the minute Google blocks the Fire Youtube app, Amazon can simply make the icon load Youtube in the web browser.


Err...the Fire YouTube app literally already does just load the website in a borderless browser window.


If Amazon isn't willing to sell Google products, Google could be unwilling to show search results leading to Amazon ...

This battle could be so entertaining that you don't need YouTube or Amazon videos at all ;-)


Agree. The day Amazon banned Chromecast and Apple TV from their marketplace Google and Apple should have banned the Amazon app from their stores.

Somebody had to step up against Amazon anti competitive behavior. Amazon has now pulled Twitch from the Roku.


isn't the Amazon app store already banned from Google's app store?


There are so many options for very small and quiet desktops. I don't understand the appeal of any of the various streaming devices from the major corps, AppleTV, Chromecast, FireTV, etc. With a small htpc you have total freedom. You can install your preferred OS, ad blocking, media player and more. You can play your own content or photo albums without uploading to a cloud service. You are not restricted to the main streaming services and can watch anything on the web. I suppose people are just lazy and would rather be frustrated. :)


Are you kidding me? I own a roku; it was so, so worth it. < $50, and suddenly I can easily search and stream from Amazon, Netflix, Youtube, Sling, Hulu, HBO, etc. It runs off USB power from the TV; no additional plug, nothing even visible. I can control it with my phone or the provided remote. I can stream audio privately through my phone, even as I watch on the TV, so as not to bother my wife in the same room. I can play my own content via Plex, streamed remotely from my own media server.

All with zero effort. The only configuration it took was selecting what apps, and putting in my credentials.

Sure, I could have bought a raspberry pi...but just the unit and a case would have put me in the same price range. I'd still need cords and an SD card. And then spent the time to setup and install everything, finding the right third party libs, troubleshooting any issues, etc. And then I'd get to make sure I updated all of them periodically, or set up an autoupdater that I'd get to troubleshoot any time it updated and caused something to break, rather than have actual QA people testing before updates get pushed.

Why would I do that? Why pay the same, and go through all that pain? I can see avoiding the companies that are also content delivery companies, but there is an obvious third party that exists -solely- to fill this niche.


My parents want to watch Amazon Prime on their TV and are not hugely technical. Plugging the little Fire TV dongle is _way_ easier than hacking something together with an HTPC box.

The Nvidia Shield might be a valid alternative, but it's hard not to just recommend they use the Fire TV dongle and be done with it.


We're missing some kind of context here… Is the app on FireTV really just a webview, or do they intend to move to a webview by January 2018 ? If it's an app that uses the API, then Google is in their right to control how it's used; and they already did with many companies hacked apps, like Microsoft's Windows Phone app.

If it's just a web browser in full screen mode, now this is something else entirely; unless it has hacks that cater specifically to YouTube, then Google can just block those hacks from functioning whenever they want.

So which is it ?


Amazon are scraping the YouTube website and presenting it in a slightly customised webview.


(The Echo view tried to use the API and was blocked recently, so switched to the webview, that is also now being blocked.)


If one decides from this to leave both Amazon and Google behind, what are good, if possible open, third party streaming devices as a replacement for firetv/chromecast(/appletv)?


Reminds me, on when Google was blocking Youtube for Windows Phones... Then Microsoft published their own App, but they had to take it down. Google seems to use Youtube often as leverage.


Please, provide complete context. As far as i remember Microsoft client skipped ads. That was the reason of blockage. Please correct me if I am wrong.


So Google are campaigning for net neutrality out one side of their mouth while breaking equality of access on the other. Isn't this Anti-trust territory?


The user agent string contains too much information that sites can misuse in this way. It's time to put a stop to that. Just spoof some string that looks like plain vanilla Chrome and has nothing to do what actual browser and device is used.

Why are Google giving net neutrality opponents ammunition in the current fight by blocking clients they don't like and looking like complete and utter hypocrites about the open web?


Couldn't Amazon just change the signature to look like firefox or something?

I wish google would have just made their own prime app instead of blocking them.


It's not a matter of Amazon's programmers being unable to, it's a matter of Amazon being uncompetitive and Google deciding to fight back.


Google is literally blocking access to the youtube.com website. This is clearly anticompetitive too.


No one is arguing it's not – but most people agree its warranted given Amazon's previous anti-competitive behavior, i.e. de-listing competing Google + Apple streaming boxes + Nest products + never offering integration of Prime Video on the Apple/Android TV in a clear move to promote FireTV + Prime membership


> but most people agree its warranted

Is it warranted for you to kill me if I steal your car?


I know you're being facetious, but in many states legally yes, provided you're caught in the act.


I am not being facetious. IMO, it is not warranted for anybody to break laws in retaliation to another person breaking a law.


I agree with you.

however, the people murdering the thief would claim that they are not breaking any laws.


Break em up. Both. Make the pieces really small.


In the war between the big players, it becomes increasingly obvious that for important (to you) media, you need to get the actual bits. Buy a DVD/Blu ray disk; it'll still be sitting there in 20 years. All you need is a reader. Streaming entertainment will come and go, but I want my movies and music forever.


I wonder how Amazon calculates decisions like not selling competitors hardware. Suppose a company that produced dish washers asked Amazon to stop selling their competitor's stuff. Surely Amazon would demand a lot of money for that. Likely more then it is worth to the dish washer company, since otherwise such deals would already have been made. But then how can it be a good decision for Amazon to refuse to sell it's own competitor's stuff? The loss in reputation is the same whether a customer doesn't find something from an Amazon competitor or something from a company that doesn't compete with Amazon.


I'm hoping that users will still be able to sideload the corresponding Android TV apps onto the Fire TV, or that a version where this is possible is released by someone.

Also, I think it's important to note that Amazon apparently develops this YouTube app for the Fire TV, and that YouTube has been a publicly accessible site as they mentioned. In contrast, Prime Video subscribers know what devices they can watch their content on, and sign up (or cancel) with that in mind. It seems like a stretch that Google is compelling Amazon to add a feature to their own app for their own service.


Between this latest spat and the impedning loss of net neutrality, maybe we should start working on a definition for something in between "intranet" and "internet". 'transnet' or something.


It's AOL v CompuServe all over again. This time it's happening on top of TCP/IP. But that's the only difference IMHO. Walled gardens instead of a competitive, open ecosystem.


Good to see Google finally doing this. Amazon anti competitive behavior had to be checked. Amazon banned Chromecast and Apple TV from their marketplace 2 years ago. That day Google and Apple should have removed Amazon app from their stores.

Google created the Chromecast and within a year added YouTube to the Roku. Versus a couple weeks ago Amazon pulled Twitch from the Roku.

Hope this straightens out Amazon. Big Amazon customer and fan of the company but their behavior is just awful and so unnessary as they won ecommerce and cloud.


This isn't quite fair. Google makes it virtually impossible for Amazon to add support to cast from its own devices (Kindle Fire, etc.). This is likely part of why Amazon added a Prime Video app for Android but refuses to allow casting support for other Android devices when its own devices cannot use it.

I don't, however, agree with Amazon's decision to not sell devices without Prime Video support. I don't think the case they make that customers will expect Prime Video support holds much merit. In any case, the Apple TV is expected to return now that the Prime Video app has been released on that platform.

I would like to see Chromecast support added to Prime Video, which is easiest if both sides concede slightly.


Finally, someone's punishing an anti-competitive company with anti competition!

Wait, sorry. I don't understand what we're supposed to be cheering for? How is any of this good for consumers?


Ugh, it all sounds so childish.

And because of this upper-management level spat, mind-numbing amounts of money are likely to fly around a courtroom, and consumers will lose out because they always do.


This will be HUGE. Imagine if Google Blocks all Amazon Searches and Traffic on Chrome? I used my FireStick to watch YouTube stuff, so for one this is really sucks for me.


I am a Prime Member and I couldn't watch Prime Videos on Android for YEARS. I could on my work iPad :(

Amazon is certainly the bad player here but I don't know if going to war is going to do anything but piss everyone off.


Biggest proponents for net neutrality are the biggest offenders.


Google is just reciprocating Amazon's strategy.

I think it's a lose-lose situation, a scorched earth strategy you could say, but Amazon is forcing Google's hand.

Google and Apple do not go as far as this on each other.

The only other company known to compete in this manner is: Microsoft under Ballmer and Gates. Those two were ruthless CEOs and gained sworn enemies to their brand.


It is not just Amazon and Google, Google search had inferior/old UI in Firefox for Android. Similar for Windows phone google had none of the apps, and had actively blocked third party apps. OSx support for Android phone is mediocre. As a user we cherish vertical integration but as consumers in long run, it is a losing proposition.


In any case, blocking web site access is an act of control that should only be expected in N. Korea or China. It's a shame and there should be legal case no matter what the reason that drives it.

Choosing what to sell on their merchant store is entirely a right of Amazon. Denied of access is not.


I only wanted Amazon Video, if i could have played it through my chromecast. It's my most used device.

I think Google is right, Amazon shouldn't abuse their powers for banning products for personal intrest, while they benefitted so much from Google ( eg. Android fork)


"Amazon implemented what was essentially a hacked version of YouTube on both the Echo Show and Fire TV"

What hack? don't tell me that they randomized requests across their network each time. They have announced that they are using generic webivew now.


A Google, you either die young or live long enough to see yourself become the bad guy.


These companies are way too big.


In my honest opinion, I could care less. I don't use either product and probably never will. Why? Because I have a laptop and an HDMI cable. Is it really that big of a deal for anyone but Amazon or Google?


There are going to be a lot of lawyers made wealthy by an inability of two tech giants to come to a working arrangement to benefit the consumer.


Google should just partner heavily with walmart.


Can't wait until Amazon introduces a video services. They got almost everything to create it.


They already did, but it’s for Prime customers only.


Amazon should make the YouTube requests indistinguishable from a desktop user running Chrome.


So now the most open way to watch content is to get an expensive ass AppleTV? Dammit.


Nothing like a good feud to warm up credit cards. Wonder if sales are up today?


"Don't be evil"


Net neutrality supporters too.


Maybe they could both appeal to the Corporate Court on Zurich-Orbital?


When will Amazon build something to compete with youtube?


They support Net Neutrality but not Device Neutrality?

Hypocrisy to the max!


Amazon Prime Video just arrived on Apple TV.


Here's a nickle kid, get yourself a better computer.


This just hit me a few hours ago - big screen (and with voice search) is a much better way to view YouTube than small screen, 'casting' apps that don't work, or crappy virtual keyboards that are laborious to type on. Re:

> Amazon has been trying to do it itself -- a move that cuts out features and also likely affects Google's ability to collect on some of the ad revenue that comes from its videos.

My FireTV has always shown ads for YouTube.


I wonder though who is serving you those ads? If it's running a 'hacked' version of the Youtube app, could Amazon be the one serving you "Youtube" ads?


It is Google serving the ads, if you have Youtube Red you see zero ads on the firetv with youtube.

The unfortunate that the Chromecast ultra etc...are braindead devices that require a phone or tablet to even use.

I probably use my FireTV as a youtube interface more than any other type of content and pay for Youtube Red.

I will most likely just drop my Youtube Red account and move onto more traditional content producers due to the poor UI on Chromecast and Google's decision here.

The fact that Google is making me suffer for their partnership details demonstrates that they don't value us as customers.


>The fact that Google is making me suffer for their partnership details demonstrates that they don't value us as customers.

It's a tough position for them, since Amazon has been blatantly inimical to consumers of Google products for years. It seems like they finally decided to use the point of leverage they have.


If they produced a device that was compelling or competitive, remember with Chromecast, content must be sent from a compatible device.

But a quick search shows that the Chromecast Ultra is available at the following locations near me.

Fred Meyer, Best Buy, WalMart, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target etc... Plus thousands of online stores.

It isn't like Amazon is the only place to buy these devices. The difference is that to sell content they need to be inside peoples homes. They just made the decision that they don't want to sell content/ads to Fire TV users.

Except for vendor lock in, which is why they want to sell ChromeCast devices, they have made the decision that their content consumers are less important to them than their device sales.

Last I looked YouTube made money from ad views and/or subscriptions and not through device sales.


I don't understand how anything you're saying addresses the fact that Amazon is deliberately sabotaging their product for users of Google hardware. Years of consumer complaints haven't solved the issue. So what's the resolution? I'm not saying this is a great move by Google, but if it results in Amazon finally supporting my Prime membership to the same extent it does for Fire TV owners, then I'll take it.


> Subscribed: Feb 15, 2016

I have never had a problem with youtube on Fire TV, which is the reason I subscribed to YouTube Red.

Amazon failing to support ChromeCast doesn't justify throwing your customers under the bus.

Which is exactly what YouTube chose to do.


My question is: if Amazon doesn't want to resolve this in good faith, then what other avenues does Google have?


None, because Google itself is engaging in anti-competitive behavior left and right. They sure as hell aren't going to lobby for the government to crack down on these practices when they are so dependent on keeping the status quo.


This one is on Amazon not Google. Amazon anti competitive behavior had to be stopped. Amazon has now pulled Twitch from the Roku.


The problem is Amazon anti competitive behavior. Amazon banning the Chromecast from the Amazon marketplace while Google allows Amazon to use them is ridiculous. Now Amazon has pulled Twitch from the Roku. Amazon anti competitive behavior had to be checked and this appears to be the only way.

Heck Google created the Chromecast in 2013 and then added a YT app to the Roku or the opposite of Amazon anti competitive behavior.

http://www.cordcuttersnews.com/amazon-pulls-twitch-channel-r... Amazon Pulls Their Twitch Channel from Roku - Cord Cutters News


Amazon is at fault here not Google. Amazon has now pulled Twitch from the Roku. Hopefully Google can stop Amazon anti competitive behavior. Heck Google created the Chromecast and then added YouTube support to the Roku.




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