Amazon.com, Inc. Blinks, Will Sell Chromecast and Apple TV

Chromecast - Amazon.com, Inc. Blinks, Will Sell Chromecast and Apple TV

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Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), Alphabet Inc’s (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google, and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) all compete in streaming video services and devices. They’ve been battling and punishing each other (with consumers caught in the middle) as they jockey for position.

In October 2015, Amazon stopped selling the Apple TV and Google Chromecast. This year, the Amazon versus Google fight has ratcheted up significantly, with Google yanking YouTube access from the Amazon Echo Show and Fire TV. 

Despite the competition, Amazon and the other two companies also rely on each other. And it looks like Amazon has blinked. Yesterday, Amazon confirmed that it will once again start selling the Apple TV and Google Chromecast video streamers.

The Streaming Feud Between Amazon, Google and Apple

When Amazon initially announced that they would stop selling Chromecast and AppleTV devices, it didn’t just stop there. The retailer placed an outright ban on the devices, warning third-party Amazon Marketplace sellers that no listings would be permitted.

The reason was apparently the lack of support on the competing streaming devices for Amazon Prime video. In an e-mail announcing the move, Amazon told its vendors:

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

The company then went on to suggest its Fire TV and streamers from Roku Inc. (NASDAQ:ROKU) — which offered Amazon Video support — as alternatives.

In a shot back at Amazon, Google has twice blocked access to YouTube on some of Amazon’s key devices. In September, Google first blocked YouTube on Amazon’s new Echo Show video screen-equipped smart speaker. The service was restored temporarily, but earlier this month, Google yanked it again. And let everyone know that as of Jan. 1, YouTube would no longer be available on Amazon’s Fire TV streamers.

Just as the tension between Amazon and Google escalated, Apple announced that Amazon Prime video will now be supported on the Apple TV.

Amazon Will Once Again Sell Google Chromecast, Apple TV

This all brings us to yesterday. After two years of not being able to buy the Apple TV or Google Chromecast on the online retailer of choice for the majority of Americans, Amazon has relented.

They aren’t available for sale on amazon.com yet, but a product page has now appeared on the site for the Google Chromecast. Amazon confirmed to CNET that it will once again be selling the video streamers.

The Loser Is … Roku?

Roku products currently hold 12 of the top 15 spots in Amazon’s ranking for best-selling video streamers (the top two are Amazon Fire TV devices). Roku is the number one video streamer in the U.S. by a wide margin, and that lead has increased over the past year. Interestingly, Amazon’s Fire TV also significantly grew its marketshare and moved past the Google Chromecast in this time.

Did the fact that consumers could not buy the Chromecast or Apple TV on Amazon — instead being directed to a Fire TV or Roku streamer — contribute to the surge in market share for the competition?

It certainly didn’t hurt.

And while Amazon has the ability to promote its Fire TV over other streamers on its site, Roku will be going up against them head-to-head. The Apple TV may not be a big problem given its premium price, but the inexpensive Google Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra are going to be tough competition. In addition, Roku has lost the Prime Video support advantage it once had.

The next move in this ongoing fight is Google’s. Amazon will start selling the Chromecast after a two-year banishment. Will Google support Amazon Prime video on its streamers? And more critical for Amazon — at least at the moment — will Google restore YouTube service to the Echo Show and Fire TV? Stay tuned…

As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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