Amazon to ban Apple TV, Chromecast sales

Online behemoth Amazon is clearly intent on exercising its “behemoth” part. Last week, Amazon announced that as of October 29, all sales of Apple’s Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast will be banned for sale from its store. This extends to third party sellers selling those devices, as well.

The reason Amazon gave for the Chromecast and Apple TV ban, according to The Verge:

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

The devices don’t offer support for Amazon’s Prime Video service, and Amazon supposedly wants to ensure all devices it offers support Prime Video. Amazon instead recommends devices such as the Fire TV, Roku, and Xbox/Playstation consoles.

More likely reasons for, and analysis of, Amazon’s actions:

  • Amazon wants to promote its own video streaming services, as well as its Fire TV streaming devices, at all costs. Never mind the Fire’s already a top-seller on Amazon’s store, or the popularity of Amazon Video.
  • “Avoid customer confusion?” That’s awfully suspicious timing if that’s the case—this news comes after Apple and Google just announced new versions of their respective devices.
  • The Verge and a few others suggest Amazon wants to avoid the 30% fee on in-app purchases Apple and Google would take. This could be one reason there’s no Prime Video app on the Apple TV or Chromecast. It’d also explain the awkward alternate-app-store work-around for installing Prime Video on Android devices. However, even a 70% take of sales would be better than zero. Plus, Amazon’s no stranger to taking an unfair share of sales; see Amazon subsidiary Comixology’s 50% take of all digital comic sales off the bat.

While Amazon’s free to sell whatever it wants, their actions strike me as fairly ham-fisted and anti-competitive, especially with the holidays right around the corner. Of course, the Chromecast and Apple TV will be available at other stores, including Best Buy, Target, and Wal-Mart. Those are places where customers can also buy other stuff they might’ve bought on Amazon, especially with those stores willing to price-match Amazon’s deals. Best Buy matched Amazon’s price for the Roku stick I bought there last year.

One point I will agree with Amazon on: the Roku makes for a good choice if you’re undecided about which streaming device to buy. Unlike Amazon’s own Fire TV (and the Apple TV or Chromecast), the Roku’s not tied to any large tech company that also sells a proprietary video platform. The Roku offers streaming from most major video services, as well as various smaller ones. It’s also cheap and has similar functionality as its competitors.

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