Amazon Bans Sales of Apple and Google Streaming Devices

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Amazon.com, one of the largest and most recognizable marketplaces on the internet, has chosen to ban the sale of Apple and Google video streaming devices on its site. New listings for Apple TV and Chromecast are no longer permitted to be made and all current listings will be removed by Oct. 29th.

Amazon has decided to pull the plug on its competition’s video streaming devices because, according to a report by Bloomberg, they “aren’t easily compatible with [Amazon’s] video service”. Roku, which led media streaming device sales in 2014, will not be affected since it naturally supports Prime Video.

According to an email statement by Amazon concerning the ban, “Over the last three years, Prime Video has become an important part of Prime.” The company went on to clarify its reasons behind the decision saying, “It’s important that the streaming media players we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion.”

This isn’t the first time Amazon has banned competing product sales. Last year it banned pre-orders for books by the Hachette Book Group while the companies quibbled over prices. Many authors brought up concerns of anti-competitive practices on Amazon’s part, which are considered illegal and fall under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act that bans “unfair methods of competition”.

Who Does This Really Hurt?

The ban is expected to hurt Google a bit more than Apple, the latter of which has its own stores and various other well-known distribution outlets. The overall sales for Chromcast and Apple TV might take a minor hit, but it’ll likely be rather negligible when the dust settles after the holiday season.

However, this move could potentially hurt Amazon the most. Parks Associates analyst Barbara Kraus said, “This has the potential to hurt Amazon as much as it does Apple and Google.” Amazon could potentially lose business this holiday season by driving consumers of Apple TV and Chromecast to other outlets and marketplaces.

This could also potentially open up concerns of anti-competition practices again, which could cost Amazon a lot more in the long run than it would otherwise endure from simply selling direct competitors of its Apple Fire TV.

Is This Really Necessary?

The new version of Apple TV should support Prime Video through the App Store, which currently has an Amazon Video app that makes it possible for Prime Video users to access their TV and movie catalogue on Apple devices. It’s also entirely possible to watch Prime Video on Chromecast using Chrome.

Konkurrenz Group lawyer Allen Grunes doesn’t think it’s likely Amazon will come under fire for antitrust violations with this decision. Grunes said, “Amazon probably wants to teach Apple and Google a lesson about not making their devices more compatible.”

Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pratcher believes this move “sends the wrong signal to consumers”. “Fewer than 20 percent of Amazon customers are Prime members,” Pratcher went on to elaborate. “I think that the excuse of avoiding customer confusion is a not-so-veiled attempt to favor Amazon first-party products over third-party products, and think it was a bad move.”

Only the results of the coming holiday season will prove just how this move shakes out for Amazon, Apple and Google.

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