The titans of the tech industry have a tense relationship with each other. Google, Apple, Amazon, Samsung, Facebook, they all need each other and yet also will happily work with anybody to get a leg up on their hated friends and beloved enemies. This tension often reveals itself to consumers in the form of something dumb, and the current Google-Amazon feud is no different. Let’s break out what’s happening in this “fight,” mostly because there’s nothing funnier than smart people acting very, very dumb.
- Google and Amazon have been in a petty argument for a long, long time over various services: Amazon and Google see each other as competitors when it comes to selling you music, movies, and apps, so they do little spiteful things to each other. You can’t play Google Music through your Echo or Amazon Music through your Google Home, for example, and until recently, Amazon Prime Video didn’t have an official Android app. The passive-aggressiveness continues even then as you still can’t stream from Amazon’s Prime Video app to your Chromecast.
- In September, Google abruptly pulled YouTube off Amazon’s Echo Show: Google did this, many speculated, because Amazon wasn’t letting — or wasn’t able — to implement features Google wanted on the Echo Show’s YouTube app, like subscriptions, autoplay, and next video recommendations. Amazon can’t claim they didn’t see this coming: Google is famously picky about standards when it comes to other people’s platforms.
- So Amazon struck back at Google’s hardware: As you are likely aware, Google makes various little bits and bobs of hardware: The Google Home, the Google Pixel, Chromebooks, the Chromecast, and so on. Since Amazon also makes many similar products, it refuses to sell Google’s (or the Apple TV, for that matter). Amazon went a step further, though, and removed Nest products from their site last month. Nest is Google’s consumer-level home automation company, most notable for their smart thermostats, and has just introduced a new home security system, so Amazon’s delisting came at the perfect time for maximum pettiness. Just to rub it in, these products are designed to work with Alexa, Amazon’s smart assistant.
- And then Amazon decided to just restore YouTube to the Echo Show without Google’s permission: A few weeks ago, YouTube returned to the Echo Show, much to the surprise and delight of the Show’s userbase, and much to the surprise of Google, who hadn’t authorized it and found out about it from the news. It turns out Amazon had used the web version of YouTube to build a usable kludge. This is the tech company version of “I’m not touching you.”
- And now Google is pulling YouTube from Amazon’s devices by the end of the year: The Echo Show loses YouTube immediately and now the Fire TV devices are having their YouTube access cut off. Amazon is informing their customers of this fact in the most passive-aggressive way possible, popping up a little dialogue box informing them that YouTube will be gone. They left out the whole part where they went out of the way to aggravate the situation, of course.
So, there you have it: You can’t watch YouTube, a service Google gives away for free, on an Amazon Fire, a device you paid for, because two giant corporations apparently have the coping strategies of toddlers. It’d be kind of funny if between the two of them they didn’t basically control the internet!