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Amazon to ban Apple, Google streaming devices

October 2, 2015

The e-commerce giant has declared war on its two rivals, ordering its sellers to stop selling the Apple TV and Google's Chromecast. But some analysts warn Amazon's brazen online protectionism could backfire.

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has opened a new front in the battle of the tech titans after he banned his archrivals' popular media-streaming devices from his virtual shelves.

In an e-mail sent to its marketplace sellers, the Seattle-based e-commerce giant said it would allow "no new listings" for the Apple TV and Google's Chromecast, and that it would pull unsold products by October 29, reported Bloomberg News on Thursday.

Amazon defended its move, arguing the hardware devices don't "interact well" with its own Prime Video streaming service.

"Over the last three years, Prime Video has become an important part of Prime," the email read, according to Bloomberg. "It's important that the streaming media players we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion."

So far, the decision only targets Apple and Google. Other popular streaming devices, such as Roku, Microsoft's Xbox or Sony's PlayStation, deemed to "interact well" with Prime Video, will continue to be available to customers on Amazon.

Two birds, one stone, three hurt?

With his brazen strategy, Bezos appears to aim to kill two birds with one stone. According to an August report by Parks Associates (PA), "Amazon, Apple, Google, and Roku…accounted 86 percent of all units sold to US broadband households in 2014."

Roku devices were the most popular, driving 34 percent of sales, followed by Google Chromecast at 23 percent, while "new entrant Amazon overtook Apple for third place," Barbara Kraus, PA's Director of Research, said.

An estimated 86 million streaming devices will be sold globally in 2019, according to the market research company. Hoping to secure a bigger piece of that pie, billionaire Bezos has poured millions into expanding its Prime Video Service, inking big deals to stream NBCUniversal's critically acclaimed drama "Mr. Robot" and a multiyear licensing agreement with CBS.

But Kraus warns that the CEO's protectionist move against Apple and Google could backfire.

"This has the potential to hurt Amazon as much as it does Apple and Google," she told Bloomberg. "As a retailer, I want to give people a reason to come to me. When I take out best-selling brands, I take away those reasons."

pad/uhe (AP, dpa)