Keep the presses rolling

Amazon will stop selling Apple TVs and Chromecasts. So what?

Although it seems pretty cut and dry, there are folks in tech media that feel Amazon shouldn’t actually stay competitive, as businesses tend to do to survive.

Case in point: Amazon doesn’t like that neither the Apple TV nor Google’s Chromecast provide easy access to its Prime Video service, so it’s taking steps over the next month to stop businesses from selling the products through its website.

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

This means that products which play nice with Amazon’s streaming video service — like most game consoles, Roku’s set-top boxes, and the company’s own FireTV — will remain available on Amazon. Apple and Google are the only ones being booted.

It’s hard to be too upset about this. Could this frustrate Apple and Google? Maybe. Will it be annoying for Amazon Prime customers who expect to be able to purchase anything through the company’s marketplace? A little, I guess. But that’s about it.

But let’s not pretend this is going to hurt Apple or Google that much. Apple has the highest sales per square foot of any retail store in the United States, and it can easily promote its products by emailing the hundreds of millions of people who gave the company their email addresses so they could download stuff from the App Store.

As for Google? Well, running the world’s most popular search engine has its perks. It can also put ads for the Chromecast on YouTube, in Gmail, and basically anywhere else it desires through its advertising platforms. Sure, it won’t offer free two-day shipping, but I doubt most people are in a rush to purchase a new dongle.

Could this be the start of a worrisome trend? Maybe. I guess it would be a problem if Amazon stopped selling e-readers that don’t support the Kindle Store, given that it’s all-but-synonymous with the product category. But those competitive devices are still listed on the company’s site, and that seems unlikely to change any time soon.

At this point, the only entity harmed by this action will be Amazon. It’ll frustrate people who want to make it their one-stop-shop for all things commercial, and it makes the company seem like a petulant child stomping its feet because the other, more popular kids don’t want to play with it. Does that seem like a stable company?

This move reeks of desperation. Amazon might be the biggest online retailer in the United States, but it’s not the only place where people can buy these products. It would’ve been better off allowing them to be listed on its site, if only to keep up its appearances, than to plan the products’ downfall to serve its own selfish purposes.

But we’re only discussing this because of the companies involved. Remove the brands and this becomes a lot less interesting. A retailer pulled some items from its virtual shelves. There are other stores, and luckily for anyone with a decent Internet connection, it only takes a few seconds to visit them and buy those items.

Yawn.

8 Responses to “Amazon will stop selling Apple TVs and Chromecasts. So what?”

  1. justGoscha

    If they really want to sell only devices that have comfortable access to Prime Instant Video, they should make an official and well documented API to allow independent programmers to use their service.

    There are enough programmers that do those things for free, just look at the Kodi/XBMC community. But they can’t do anything when Amazon doesn’t provide them the tools to do that.

    • Tom Cheredar

      Really? That’s not cool. I’ll go back and see if I can uncover it. (The current state of our comment platform is crap, but legitimate non-spam comments are always welcome — criticisms and all.)

  2. The most important feature that Amazon offers is product reviews by
    purchasers. Amazon sells directly, or through its partners, many products
    that have very low ratings for performance, value, quality, etc. But I
    still purchase from amazon because the reviews protect me from
    substandard products or those that don’t fit my requirements for other reasons.
    If amazon wants to take upon itself the task of ensuring that only products
    that meet its standards of quality are met, fine. Seeing Amazon hire another 100,000 people to do all that testing will surely be a great boon to the economy. I can’t imagine it’s cheaper than user reviews, but apparently Amazon doesn’t believe that its product can win on its merits, getting better reviews than Chromecast and apple TV, so second best is to eliminate all reviews of the competition.
    I have both a Fire and a Chromecast. The Chromecast I use to show presentations on television screens as part of my training business. The Fire I use to watch movies on
    devices that don’t already have Amazon connectivity. We all lose if a product that does what Chromecast does is no longer available because Amazon decides that since it won’t work for Prime, it won’t work for anything.

  3. snuggles

    You know you’re a long time GigaOm reader and you expect rational analysis of a business decision. But then I realized this is the new GigaOm, where clown authors post.

    What I would have liked the author to have written would have been some sort of analysis of how much Amazon was moving of AppleTVs and Chromecast devices. How many units/percent? Instead of ending with a “yawn”, perhaps the author could have speculated, based on actual facts, on what sort of impact this might have. Perhaps the author could have told readers of efforts made by Amazon to get their service on competing devices. Instead, all we get is drivel.

    • Tom Cheredar

      Not sure there’s a verifiable percentage of Apple TV/Chromecast unit sales on Amazon, but I’d imagine the numbers weren’t very high. And also, anyone buying a rival’s streaming device on Amazon is someone that would potentially buy a Fire TV instead. Pretty cut and dry. Sorry you didn’t like the post.

      • Umm, this really isn’t a story because of the companies, it’s a story because the stupid excuse they gave.
        I could care less that amz doesn’t want to carry the chromecast, I have three and only one did I buy from them. However, to pretend that this is because of lack of support from Google is a lie and I’m surprised that wasn’t even mentioned in this article. I don’t know about the apple tv crap, but they could and should have enabled chromecast support on their android app a long time ago, something users of prime video have been begging for. They made their users wait long enough for Android app, probably to help encourage sales of the kindle which got that first, but then to finally put out the app, leave users disappointed again by excluding chromecast support and now to pretend it’s googles fault is dishonest and a slap in the face to their frustrated users.