It’s been a long, frustrating road for folks who own Amazon’s devices and want to access Google’s streaming services, and vice versa, but it appears the two giants have agreed to at least partially lay down their weapons and call a truce. Today, April 18, the two companies have jointly announced that “in the coming months,” there will be cross-platform support for streaming video services, including Prime Video on Chromecast, Chromecast-built-in, and Android TV, and official YouTube support for Amazon Fire TV, and smart TVs with Fire TV built-in. Though Prime Video was already available on a limited number of Android TV devices, support for this platform will now expand.
The dispute between Amazon and Google has taken several turns over the years, and has seen Amazon refuse to carry certain Google devices like Chromecasts on its virtual store shelves. For its part, Google retaliated by yanking access to YouTube from devices like the Amazon Echo Show. And while today’s announcement is a clear indication that relations between the two companies have begun to thaw, it’s hardly at the warm-and-fuzzy levels we’d like to see. Neither company, for instance, has offered a timeline for the return of YouTube to the Echo Show, or for a wider range of Google devices to be made available on Amazon.
As for the reasons behind today’s announcement? Chalk it up to pure self-interest. The streaming video space, which is already experiencing a frenzied level of competition, is about to get much, much hotter due to the imminent arrival of both Apple’s Apple TV Plus, and Disney Plus. It’s expected that both services will be available on a wide range of streaming devices, including Roku, and most major smart TV platforms. Consumers will thus be faced with a choice of which device they’ll use, and which streaming services they’ll subscribe to. If that choice ends up precluding access to either Prime Video, or YouTube, it could hurt both companies.
Alternatively, if people feel there’s no reason to trust that their Chromecast or Fire TV device will play nicely with Prime Video and YouTube for the foreseeable future, they may simply opt to buy a Roku, which offers support for virtually every streaming platform. Both Google and Amazon could end up getting caught in the whirlwind of choice, something both entities would prefer to avoid.
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