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Amazon Will Resume Selling Apple TV, Google's Chromecast (axios.com)
62 points by yskchu on Dec 14, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 34 comments

Honestly, I'm kind of surprised that there are no laws in place in the U.S., even with them being hardcore capitalists, to prevent such a huge monopoly to choose what they don't want to sell on their marketplace simply because in the past few years they've decided to produce products that compete with Apple and Google.

Bezos' goal from 1997 was to be the 'everything store' as it's succinctly put in the biography about Amazon's rise, and they're doing a fine job of that. I have friends and family that purchase just about everything short of groceries on amazon. But what happens when they decide to enter more markets with their own products and cut off other competitors from selling who don't have the clout or leverage of a behemoth like Apple or Google? If Google had not pulled YouTube from their Fire devices it's unlikely they would have let them sell their products once again. Which shouldn't have even had to happen in the first place.

Also, I think this was only in the US because I was checking Amazon UK last week and you were still able to buy chromecasts and Google Home. This is probably because the EU has laws that restricts companies from taking advantage of their monopolised position and pushing competitors out.

I don't think its exactly anti-competitive since you're free to buy an Apple TV from anyone else. This is more about companies with paid for streaming services not allowing each other on their platforms. Often they will restrict each other from selling content on their devices since they offer a competing product. For example, Amazon sells TV shows/movies through Amazon Instant Video, so does Apple through iTunes. In my opinion this was enforcing a similar policy at a more physical level. There's a weird balance to the whole ecosystem.

Google Home is alright, but you definitely can't buy Chromecasts on Amazon UK. Any that you do see there are fakes, with misleadingly similar branding and design.

Which -- given that they clearly allow these obvious knock-offs -- puts paid to Amazon's initial stated reason ("avoid customer confusion") for not allowing Chromecasts on their store.

Amazon does something even more insidious. Apparently if you're selling a cable or something and doing really well, Amazon will come out with a generic version of that which is cheaper, and they will be able to undercut your prices.

Basically, they're letting you validate the market and then jumping in once you've taken the risk and created the market.

This is pretty common in retail and predates Amazon (or even online shopping in general)-- for example, Kroger has Kroger-branded groceries; Best Buy has Dynex, Rocketfish, and Insignia for consumer electronics; Costco has Kirkland Signature everything.

Generics and private label brands are big business, especially in industries where consumers aren't brand sensitive (does anyone actually buy on-brand Motrin or Advil?). It's completely understandable that Amazon would want on that particular gravy train.

Amazon Basics rechargeable batteries actually have higher capacities than their name-brand competitors.

I saw Amazon Basics pants last night. But there's some places even I won't go.

Every supermarket chain in the UK does this to a greater or lesser extent, sometimes it's hard to distinguish the original packaging from the copy.

There is a German supermarket chain who take the concept to its absolute limit, basing their entire business model on it.

Lidl and Aldi?

> Amazon does something even more insidious.

> Basically, they're letting you validate the market and then jumping in once you've taken the risk and created the market.

I am not trying to defend Amazon but they also cut down the customer acquisition costs someone validating the market has to incur. So, it is now become a toss up between initial costs of finding and validating the market vs Amazon taking the sales data entering in direct competition. Which is better?

Can't any company do that?

Not every company has access to your sales numbers and revenue on those sales. They know very well how much revenue you're bringing in, it's child's play to them to price out your product and see that if their amazing supply chain network can undercut you while they still make a profit or break even just to increase market share.

Plus, if you're doing "fulfilled by Amazon" they know you're paying an extra 30% on your cost of goods for fulfillment. They can price all that in and figure out if they can sell it for cheaper, also fulfilled by Amazon.

You don't need inside access to numbers to do your own math and see if you can undercut someone else

But when you have actual sales numbers and you already know what they're paying for fulfillment (fulfilled by Amazon) you can do way better math.

"He's selling 10k of these a day at 20 bucks, and he's giving us six bucks per sale. Can we sell the same thing at 15 bucks? Then it'll sell better and rank higher in the search results"

I'm failing to see a problem with this. You're literally selling goods in someone else's store. Is it also a problem when grocery stores undercut and prominently feature their own brands?

Search for a Chromecast device on Amazon and you'll be greeted with pages and pages of Chinese Chromecast v1 and v2 lookalikes that have no Chromecast functionality. It's absolutely ridiculous that Amazon supports and profits from these types of third party sellers.


If they did this to Apple and Google, what prevents them from doing it to smaller companies that make similar products? How is this not anticompetitive?

This isn't anti-competitive because you're not required to sell your competitors products. I can't fathom requiring the Apple store to carry Amazon Fire Tablets and Android phones.

Why can't you fanthom that? If Apple would control Amazon level of commerce in field of electronics, not carrying them would mean that there's no more free market and no competition in the field. Any new (or existing) player couldn't enter the market no matter how good their product is.

The result is pretty much stores as they were here in the 1980s socialism - filled with a single crappy product with no other choice. Let's not have that.

"not carrying them would mean that there's no more free market and no competition in the field. Any new (or existing) player couldn't enter the market no matter how good their product is."

Um, go to the Apple website and order it or Walmart.com/Jet.com? If Amazon started purchasing or shutting down all other retailers, then it would be a monopoly. Simply being more successful than them doesn't make it so.

"Lots of people use Amazon" doesn't imply the level of control you're suggesting. Just off the top of my head there are:

- Fry's

- Newegg.

- BestBuy

- Andorama

- Wallmart/Jet

- Microcenter

- Directron

- B&H

- Costco

- Ebay

- Overstock

And if those don't suit you just about every company is happy to sell to you direct. Saying that Amazon has some kind of monopoly control on selling things is silly.

So, will Google in return allow Amazon (and maybe also others) to stream to Chromecasts from Android devices without Google Play Services?

Will they maybe even open up the API?

I doubt it.

Chromecast still has only a single server implementation, which is proprietary, and either a single proprietary client implementation, or potentially two proprietary ones (in case Amazon has reverse engineered Google's Chromecast client for the Chromecast support in the Prime Music app, I haven't verified that yet)

Amazon Music just added Cast support and Google never blocked that.

I don't understand your point about proprietary APIs though - will Amazon now also allow Google to replace firmware on FireTV sticks? ;)

You can only cast to Chromecast by using Google's proprietary API, with Google's proprietary library.

This only works on devices with Google Play services. On desktop, or on Replicant, LineageOS, CopperheadOS, or Kindle OS, it doesn't work at all.

This is important, especially the last part.

The company at fault for missing Chromecast support in anything is always Google, because they chose not to make it an open standard, and because they chose to rapidly, sometimes even weekly, change the already obfuscated protocol, to prevent Amazon — and open source devs — from supporting it.

I spent hours every week updating my reverse engineered library to connect to it, but in the end, I gave up. Now I have a very expensive brick here.

> So, will Google in return allow Amazon (and maybe also others) to stream to Chromecasts from Android devices without Google Play Services?

Cast services, like Airplay are proprietary technologies

Why should they be?

Everything can be open, there’s no reason except greed for profit not to make them open.

Do we think this might be a result of Amazon's smart TV device not selling as well as google/apple's?

I'm pretty sure this is directly in response to them pulling the Youtube App from the FireTV devices.

Yes, hopefully this won't now happen.

Yep (including Echo Show etc).

Hopefully this means I'm not going to have to explain to my kids why Youtube doesn't work on the TV anymore at the end of this month.

I wonder if Amazon realized that Google and Apple can block their app?

You can't say that Amazon dominates retail to the extent that Youtube dominates internet video, but there have been a few occasions where Google has kept it's dominant Youtube video off of platforms that Google competes against.

Windows Phone, Echo Show, and Fire TV come to mind.

Is Youtube's share of the online video market large enough that this pattern of behavior would trigger antitrust concerns in the US?

How about under the EU's competition law, which kicks in at a much lower threshold? Would Amazon and Youtube both have a large enough market share to get them into legal hot water for anti-competitive behavior in the EU?

That's right and I can't believe there isn't more disgust at Google for the Echo Show drama. They blocked Youtube.com on this device -- the website, not an app. It's the most recent example of throwing net neutrality out the window.

> It's the most recent example of throwing net neutrality out the window.

Net neutrality is about the middlemen in the network, not the endpoints. You can't just point to every unfair or unethical business practice related to the Internet and call it a net neutrality violation. Net neutrality has a more specific meaning than that.

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