Amazon’s disingenuous plan to remove Fire TV’s competition grows

5 Comments

Credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Earlier this month, reports indicated that Amazon planned to stop selling the Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast products through its online marketplace. While the devices are still available right now, they’re scheduled to be pulled at some point today, according to Bloomberg’s initial report on Amazon’s plans.

So why is Amazon doing this? Well, the company would have you believe that it’s trying to prevent consumer confusion, because neither of those competitive devices support its Prime Video service as well as its own Fire TV set-top boxes. But several reports published over the last few days offer an alternative theory.

First came a GeekWire report about Amazon’s apparent plans to introduce a QVC-like channel to the Fire TV. This shopping network would complement a new feature the company is reportedly testing with a small number of users: The ability to purchase items shown on-screen directly via the Fire TV remote.

The report says that Amazon wants to sell items via banner ads shown on the main Fire TV interface, and through the X-Ray feature, which uses Amazon’s IMDb service to share information about whatever a person is watching. (It can identify actors, for example, or share background info about a scene.)

These shopping features wouldn’t be as easy to implement on competitive products. Nor would Amazon make as much money from them — Apple takes a 30 percent cut from all transactions made through its platforms, which is why Kindle users can’t purchase new books via the company’s iOS applications.

That’s a compelling enough reason not to believe Amazon’s claim on its own. Saying it was trying to help its Prime customers was likely disingenuous; it seems more like Amazon is trying to do its best to promote a potential revenue scheme than like it was trying to make sure its most loyal customers are happy.

Then came the revelation, courtesy of BuzzFeed’s review of the new Apple TV, that Amazon could very well introduce its Prime Video service to the platform. Here’s what the review said, captured in a handy-dandy little “screenshort”:

I’ve reached out to Amazon for comment on this claim. Right now it seems damning. If the company can introduce Prime Video to the Apple TV, wouldn’t the customers it’s trying to save from befuddlement be better served if it did that, instead of pulling from its website a device they might want to purchase?

None of this will really stop people from buying a new Apple TV. Like I wrote when Amazon’s plan was revealed: The company isn’t hurting anyone but itself, given the ease with which someone can point their Web browser to Apple’s website instead of refusing to buy something not on Amazon’s market. It’s very possible that Amazon is trying (likely in vain) to retain some of the market share for streaming boxes it swallowed up due to years of Apple neglecting to update the Apple TV.

I’ll update this post if Amazon responds to my request for comment. Not that I’m holding my breath — when the company isn’t sending me press releases about new products or making sure I see Medium posts, it’s fairly tight lipped. Given the apparent duplicity at work here, I don’t expect any comment from it.

5 Comments

Dylan

Maybe I am missing something, but why should Amazon have to feel morally obligated to support its competition? Seems very anti-capitalism.

thelep

I prefer a mini PC,Chromebox or Compute stick connected to my TV.These have web browsers and let you watch all online content,such as free Hulu.Devices like apple tv/roku/fire tv don’t have a web browser and prevent you from watching lots of online content(like free Hulu).
This is how I get internet/home phone /mobile phone/TV/movies for under$80/month:
1) $60/month for cable home internet with mobile WiFi hotspots
2)free over the air TV with an antenna
3) $3/month for magicjack GO home phone service(includes magicapp)
4) magicApp free unlimited talk/text over WiFi on android or apple smartphone/tablet( the mobile WiFi hotspots are very useful for this)
5)$7/month for tracfone limited cellular talk/text/data for when you don’t have WiFi (I use the magicapp on an android tracfone)
6)$8/month for netflix or amazon prime

7)Use local library for free dvd/blu ray rentals and some libraries have free streaming from their website.
8)Use a smart blu-ray player with apps (netflix/amazon etc..)
9)Connect a mini-PC to your TV such as Chromebox or compute stick which have a real web browser that lets you watch all online content on your TV.

Quasar_

It was already lies. Amazon banned Googles AndroidTV device , the nexus player, as well whilst continuing to sell other AndroidTV devices. Worse is that Amazon supplies a Amazon Video app to some AndroidTV devices.

DragonDagger

To be fair Amazon must now stop selling other vendors tablets and smartphones.

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