Amazon bans the Apple TV, but it's biting off far more than it can chew by picking a fight with Apple
Eye on Apple
By Jim Lynch, CIO
Even the largest, best known companies in the world sometimes do very stupid things. The latest example of this is Amazon, which has banned sales of the Apple TV and Google Chromecast.
Currently you can search on Amazon and you will still see the Apple TV and Google Chromecast on the site. But that changes on Oct. 29 when all listings for both products will be removed from Amazon’s online store.
The Seattle-based Web retailer sent an e-mail to its marketplace sellers that it will stop selling the Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast since those devices don’t “interact well” with Prime Video. No new listings for the products will be allowed and posting of existing inventory will be removed Oct. 29, Amazon said. Prime Video doesn’t run easily on its rival’s hardware.
The move, coming just before the year-end holiday shopping season, shows how Amazon is willing to sacrifice sales of popular brand name products — Apple and Google have the best-selling media streaming devices generally — to bolster its own video-streaming service. Amazon has invested heavily in online content, including producing its own exclusive shows such as the award-winning transgender comedy “Transparent”, as a way to attract new Prime subscribers, who pay $99 a year for speedy shipping and access to video and other services.
I have to wonder what on earth Amazon is thinking by doing this. Do they really think that their customers will appreciate not being able to buy the Apple TV or Google Chromecast? One of the benefits of shopping at Amazon has always been the large selection of merchandise available, but Amazon is now beginning to restrict consumer choices instead of broadening them.
I have been a Prime subscriber for a while now but yesterday I cancelled my membership, which was set to renew on October 10. I see no reason to continue using Prime if it means that Amazon is going to try to limit the selection of devices available in its store. I can easily live without the faster shipping and other Prime membership benefits.
And here’s the funny thing, I don’t even own a television! Nor do I own an Apple TV or Google Chromecast. But Amazon’s bad behavior needs to be punished by its customers, and if Prime is such a big deal to them then I will deny them the money from my membership to send Jeff Bezos a message.
Apple customers on Reddit angry with Amazon
I’m not the only one that was disgusted by Amazon’s behavior, the Bloomberg article spawned a large discussion thread in the Apple subreddit and the folks there weren’t shy about sharing their opinions:
Zbignew: ”They are giant companies with huge bankrolls – it is just a matter of money. I’m sure Amazon would be delighted to build an app for the Apple TV if they didn’t have to kick back 30% of sales in the app. I suspect (but I’m not sure) Apple would let them ship a free app that let people play their existing Amazon purchases but didn’t let them solicit additional sales, which is a crummy experience.
Their business interests conflict. This is one of Amazon’s many negotiation options. It is foolish to think that either company is purely looking out for their customers.”
TricksR4: ”Or they could just make their own apps for those devices. But hey, another reason for me to ween myself off amazon.”
XMia: ”Yeah, the “customer confusion” thing is absolutely ridiculous. This is purely meant to make people buy their hardware.”
Britton: ”…that whole story is probably even funnier behind the scenes at amazon. I’m sure the team that’s making instant video would love to provide apps, chromecast features and a great apple tv experience, but the hardware team had it their way on this one because they want to sell more hardware. :-D”
Gugul: ”…I’ve become wary of Bezos and his antics. I stopped paying for prime and slowly I became disinterested in their services.”
Justgip: ”Amazon is hurting its reputation here. Seems like an unnecessary move.”
Mredo: ”The timing of this seems really weird since Apple now has an SDK for the Apple TV, and the ball is now in Amazon’s court for delivering an app for the Apple TV, which should be an easy port from the iOS app it has for the iPhone/iPad.
And frankly, Prime Video needs to play nice with others, more like Netflix, and be everywhere. It’s not that great of a service to be locked into Amazon-only hardware, and hardware shouldn’t be a focus for Amazon.”
Wiseidiot: ”I would’ve thought that the SDK being open would’ve been seen as a great opportunity to make Prime more accessible to users of other devices. I was really excited about the possibility of Prime access via the new AppleTV but their decision is now making me reconsider my entire Prime membership.”
TBone: ”Amazon isn’t being consistent. They have apps for iOS, why not Apple TV? Furthermore, their REAL competitor is Netflix and other streaming services. Having your service on less devices is a bad idea, plain and simple. Lastly, their excuse as to why they aren’t doing it is complete BS.”
ImageMode: ”The customer confusion part probably comes from the fact that Apple will want a percentage of in app purchases, so if you buy or rent a movie from Amazon they won’t get the full amount of the sale (30% goes to Apple). So instead of mimicking the behavior of the iPhone app where it directs you to a browser to buy or rent, add to your library, then stream, they’re choosing not to have an app at all. And trying to fight Apple and Google by not selling their products. ”
As you can tell from the comments, a lot of users are angry at Amazon and also puzzled as to why the company doesn’t just make an app for the Apple TV. I suspect having to give Apple 30% of each sale is probably the reason why Amazon didn’t opt to produce an app for the Apple TV.
The new Apple TV is going to be a huge hit with or without Amazon
Apple is set to release a brand new version of the Apple TV soon, and it’s going to be a huge hit whether Amazon sells it or not. Apple has finally added an app store, a new Touch remote that can even play games, Siri voice control and even a new interface. Apple TV is finally going to be something more than a hobby to Apple.
And I think consumers are going to be absolutely delighted with it. But they won’t be able to buy it on Amazon, of course. They’ll go to Amazon’s site, do a search and the only thing that will probably come up in the results will be Amazon’s Fire TV device.
Does Amazon really think that will result in more sales of its device? I think it’s much more likely that Amazon’s customers will simply close the Amazon window in their browsers and move on to buy the Apple TV somewhere else.
Apple doesn’t need Amazon to sell the Apple TV
Amazon, of course, can do whatever it likes with its store. But here’s the thing that Amazon should remember: Apple doesn’t need them. Apple has many stores all over the world, and Apple also sells its products directly on its site. So losing Amazon as a distributor is going to have a negligible effect on Apple TV sales, if it has any effect at all.
You’d think that Amazon would have realized this before making such a boneheaded move. Apple is the one in the driver’s seat here, not Amazon. Amazon is a big company, and it’s used to throwing its weight around to get what it wants. But Apple is an even bigger giant that can easily shrug off Amazon’s attack, if it even notices it at all.
In this fight with Apple, Amazon is simply biting off far more than it can chew.
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