AMAZON WANTS TO MAKE IT HARDER FOR CUSTOMERS TO BUY DEVICES FROM RIVALS GOOGLE AND APPLE.
As the streaming wars heat up, Amazon is playing hardball: Effective October 29, the e-commerce retailer is banning sales of Apple TV and Google Chromecast units, according to Bloomberg. Amazon’s reasoning is that Apple TV and Chromecast are not compatible with its streaming service, Prime Video. Bloomberg reports that third-party sellers have been told they must stop selling both products; new listings are no longer being accepted, and existing stock must be sold before the ban takes effect.
“Over the last three years, Prime Video has become an important part of Prime,” an Amazon spokesperson told Fast Company in a statement. “It’s important that the streaming media players we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion. Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, and Fire TV are excellent choices.” Amazon declined to answer any further questions about the decision, but given that its primary role is that of an e-commerce site—not consumer electronics company—it is unclear whether the move is a violation of antitrust laws.
The PlayStation, Xbox, and Roku—all of which feature Prime Video—will still be sold on the e-commerce site. Amazon, of course, has its own streaming player, the Amazon Fire Stick, which directly competes with Chromecast and Apple TV.
Amazon’s decision signals discomfort with the escalating rivalry in the streaming media player space, which is now chock-full of devices that essentially do the same thing for near-identical price points. Many customers are driven by arbitrary factors, like brand loyalty or sale prices, when opting to buy one player over another. The timing, before the holiday shopping season, is no coincidence either.
“As the holiday season approaches, there will be more attempts such as this to promote products that are specific to certain retailers,” Traci Gregorski, a retail analyst at Market Track, told Fast Company. “Private label and branded products, especially ones tied to services such as Prime Video, offer differentiation in a crowded and exceptionally competitive marketplace. Driving Prime memberships has been a high priority for Amazon, as seen through their heavy push for memberships during Back-to-School and Prime Day.”
Fast Company has reached out to Google and Apple for comment and will update this article when we hear back.