Amazon bans sales of Apple and Google video-streaming devices
October 1, 2015 03:29 PM
(Bloomberg)—Amazon.com Inc. is flexing its e-commerce muscles to gain an edge on competitors in the video-streaming market by ending the sale of devices from Google Inc. and Apple Inc. that aren’t easily compatible with Amazon’s video service.
The Seattle-based web retailer sent an email to its marketplace sellers that it will stop selling Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast. No new listings for the products will be allowed and posting of existing inventory will be removed Oct. 29, said Amazon, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide. Amazon’s streaming service, called Prime Video, doesn’t run easily on its rival’s hardware.
"Over the last three years, Prime Video has become an important part of Prime," Amazon said. "It’s important that the streaming media players we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion."
Roku Inc.’s hardware, Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox, and Sony Corp.’s PlayStation, which work with Amazon’s video service, aren’t affected, Amazon said.
Amazon’s decision to limit selection "sends the wrong signal to consumers," and the company’s explanation that Prime Video doesn’t work well with its rivals’ products is "especially weak," said Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.
"Fewer than 20% of Amazon customers are Prime members," Pachter said. "What about the 80% who want an Apple TV to stream Netflix? I think that the excuse of avoiding customer confusion is a not-so-veiled attempt to favor Amazon first-party products over third-party products, and think it was a bad move."
Amazon’s Fire TV stick, which plugs into an HDMI port to connect televisions with streaming services such as Netflix and Prime Video, is the company’s best-selling electronic device.
Amazon, Apple (No. 2 in the Top 500), Google and Roku devices accounted for 86% of all media-streaming products sold to U.S. households with broadband in 2014, according to an August report by Parks Associates. An estimated 86 million media-streaming devices will be sold globally in 2019, Parks said.
Amazon supplanted Apple for the No. 3 position in sales in 2014, Parks said. Roku led the market with 34% and Google was second with 23%, according to the report.