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Google Blocks YouTube App in Amazon Echo Show

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Amazon and Google are battling it out right now.  And this is a really interesting one.  Google has apparently decided that it’s going to stop allowing the Amazon Echo Show to access YouTube.  If you ask the smart speaker to show you a YouTube video, it fails and Alexa says “currently, Google is not supporting YouTube on Echo Show”.  In response, Amazon issued the following statement:

Google made a change today at around 3 pm. YouTube used to be available to our shared customers on Echo Show. As of this afternoon, Google has chosen to no longer make YouTube available on Echo Show, without explanation and without notification to customers. There is no technical reason for that decision, which is disappointing and hurts both of our customers.

If you’re not familiar with the Echo Show, it is an Alexa-enabled smart speaker that has a screen on it so you can watch videos.  Since YouTube is the largest source of video on the internet, this seems like it would be a good match.  But apparently, Google doesn’t feel that way.  A lot of people use the Echo Show in order watch music videos or even for cooking lessons.  A lot of that is done through YouTube, so this really does kind of hurt people who are using the Echo Show for that reason.

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Amazon’s statement makes it clear that this isn’t a technical issue, but a deliberate choice by Google.  Google, on the other hand, has a different reason that it blocked YouTube on the Echo Show:

We’ve been in negotiations with Amazon for a long time, working towards an agreement that provides great experiences for customers on both platforms. Amazon’s implementation of YouTube on the Echo Show violates our terms of service, creating a broken user experience. We hope to be able to reach an agreement and resolve these issues soon.

Who do you think is telling the truth?  These are two major tech companies, so it’s hard to say what the real story is.  Or is it?  Google is saying that the Echo Show violates Google’s terms of service, which is thus creating a broken user experience.  Which makes me wonder – is Google demanding things from Echo Show users, and Amazon isn’t supportive of that?  Like subscriptions or next video recommendations etc.  If that’s the case, is Amazon really violating the terms of agreements?  Or is Google just sulking?

Google has a history of being particular when it comes to how YouTube gets displayed on apps made by other companies.  This is shown through the terms of service on its API.  Back in 2013, this happened with Microsoft.  They got into it over the YouTube app on the Windows phone.  They then blocked the app, which leads Microsoft to revert to a web player for YouTube.  So this does kind of sound like Google is sulking a bit.  But that’s just my opinion. What is clear through all of this is that Google and Amazon aren’t really doing a good job of working together in this deal.  This does make you wonder what kind of control Google has in terms of the market.  Hopefully, they can figure this out and the app returns to the Echo Show soon.