By banning Apple TV and Chromecast, Amazon shows what it means to be a monopolist

“One of the questions routinely faced by government regulators and consumer advocates is whether a company can get so big that it starts acting against its own customers’ interests,” Michael Hiltzik writes for The Los Angeles Times. “Amazon, which says it is about to ban from its shelves media-streaming devices from Google and Apple that compete with its own products, appears determined to show that the answer is yes. ”

“Amazon asserts that it’s taking action against Apple TV and Chromecast because the devices are incompatible with Prime Video,” Hiltzik writes. “This is a transparent dodge. There’s nothing about the technology of the Apple and Google devices that prevents them from “interacting” with Amazon Prime; the problem is that Amazon hasn’t reached agreements with Apple and Google to stream Prime media over their devices, most likely because Amazon objects to paying Apple and Google a piece of its subscription and on-demand revenue.”

The all-new Apple TV with Siri remote and Apple TV App Store
The all-new Apple TV with Siri remote and Apple TV App Store
“It’s doubtful that Amazon’s move rises to the level of an antitrust violation, since the banned products remain widely available. Apple owns nearly 300 stores in the U.S. alone, and Google sells Chromecast through other retailers and online. Both offer their products online,” Hiltzik writes. “What should concern customers is the evolution of what’s commonly viewed as an impartial marketer of others’ goods into a marketing arm of a corporation that already dominates eCommerce. Amazon has reached that point by stressing customer service; having established its primacy, it’s moving to cram its proprietary choices down its own customers’ throats. This is the threat always posed by latent monopolists. Their behavior appears benign as they build toward a monopoly; once they’ve achieved it, they squeeze their advantage ruthlessly.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Amazon. “The Everything Store” where you can’t get everything.

Obviously, Bezos hopes to get Apple to lower their 30% take to offer Amazon Prime video on Apple TV. We’ll see how well that goes.

Amazon to ban sale of Apple TV, other streaming devices – October 1, 2015
Apple TV and voice control: What Siri does that the others don’t – September 18, 2015
With the all-new Apple TV, Apple changes the game, yet again – September 14, 2015
What Apple got right in Apple TV’s user interface – and what needs work – September 11, 2015
New Apple TV has the potential to do for television what iPhone did for mobile phones – September 11, 2015
Apple preps to conquer living room with all-new Apple TV – September 11, 2015
Hands-on with the all-new Apple TV – September 10, 2015
Gruber: Apple TV will define how all TVs will work in a few years – September 10, 2015


    1. iFixIt violated a non-disclosure agreement. Those are inviolate in business. They are reaping the whirlwind they sowed. Anything that happens to iFixIt was a consequence of their delinquent behavior in deliberately deciding that the laws of contracts did not include them and that they were not honorable and that their written signatures on a contract were not worth anything. They through any trust they had built over years out the window for some evanescent kudos from geeks that could easily have waited until Apple actually released the final product in a few weeks. iFixIt acted like infants with an “I want it now” attitude, and a hang the long-term consequences. Very childish in a world of adults. Apple has spanked them, hard.

  1. Why is it no one asks if a government can get so big it becomes the chief enemy of the people?

    I am not inconvenienced by Amazon’s decision. I still buy most of my content from other sources. Hulu, Netflix, iTunes, and Amazon last.

    Now if Amazon were preventing me from using the other services, that would be an entirely different issue. I could even buy an Amazon video dohickey if I wanted. I have choices.

          1. Or… you know… Amazon could (and I have no doubts that they can) write iOS / AppleTV OS Apps that work with Apple devices, instead of playing this little game of trying to fool consumers into thinking there is an “issue” with Apple / Google devices.

            I’m not jumping on the Amazon is being monopolist… they are, but not about this issue. It’s not even remotely “anti-competitive”… unless one’s idea of “competition” is the absurd notion that one company must endorse, support, and/or sell a competitor’s products.

            At best (worse?), their little stunt can be described as anti-consumer (or better, anti-customer) as they have just eliminated some choices for their customers.

            Really, it’s more of a “cut off your nose to spite your face” move, than anything else.

            1. Might seem fair but unlike Android based App stores Apple has a monopoly on iOS App sales. This may result in a case similar to one being raised with Amazon removing streaming devices. Since there is only one iOS App store the other edge of the sword of controlling everything may cut Apple.

    1. As the article says there is no agreement on Apples share of their streaming take on Apple TV. It’s normally 30% but Amazon oesnt want to pay that. Apple has taken moves to reduce that with certain companies I understand though one presumes they gain an advantage for doing so which Amazon would have to convince them of no doubt in their case.

  2. Amazon is a ruthless retailer with no conscience, integrity and little value-add. Their business model reminds me of Dell – lowest price, efficiency and low quality at any cost. Its a model and strategy that works for a period of time but eventually consumers wise-up that they are being hosed with cheap shite. They devalue the things we buy and make us an even more throwaway, commoditized society.

    What really bothers me is the way they crush retailers who truly provide service to consumers with a strategy to always offer the lowest price, no matter what, in violation of their Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) authorized dealer agreements because they know they can get away with it with their buying power. To me that is antitrust in reverse. Bad dudes. Bad for business and ultimately really bad for consumers.

    1. The people that value their perceived balance of low cost and sufficient service will continue with Amazon. Those that value service more will go with a different retailer. If the items at Amazon become too low quality sales are lost. In the end the consumer market will decide.

      1. yeah, that’s kind of what I’m saying (look at Dell, now) with the exception that Amazon regularly prices products below the Authorized Dealer Minimum Advertised Price. Their excuse is that one rinky dink operation out of a garage is selling below MAP so they have to violate, as well. Meanwhile all the other legitimate retailers are advertising at the right price AND providing great service. And by service I mean live salespeople in person or on the phone demonstrating and explaining the product properly. What I’m saying is they aren’t playing by the same pricing rules as everyone else. Kind of predatory, if you ask me.

        I buy plenty of stuff from Amazon, so I’m certainly not claiming the moral high ground but I’m not buying into their Prime ecosystem that will suck the life out of content and technology innovation. Thankfully there are still companies that get the importance of maintaining good margins so that the profit can be funneled back into new innovations.

        Personally I don’t care if they sell any Apple products. Apple does a great job of protecting their product pricing so there is no need to even look at Amazon. That’s why it makes so much sense to buy any product direct from Apple.

        1. I agree that there are times and products where the service really helps and I would buy from elsewhere.. It’s good to have places like Amazon where you can purchase items affordably w/o the servicing when you don’t need it or are comfortable handling it yourself. If Amazon started offering good after sales service AND sold under MAP those other retailer would face much more pressure. Amazon has a place in my purchasing choices. Looking at it a different way, you can have those places that offer services to promote that as a separate cost. That retailer may not sell as many units but will have a lot more service work as long as Amazon neglects that part of it. Eventually that retailer may not hold any inventory of the product (I understand unsold inventory is a significant problem) and make profit from being a authorized service center (much lower overhead). The customer is able to purchase the product cheaper and get servicing locally if they need it. In a way I feel Amazon is just doing on a larger scale what WalMart, Costco, etc. do by selling more product at prices friendly to consumers that don’t mind buying in that way. Now that I’ve written that I think the warehouse stores can give Amazon a run for its money if they also offered delivery of products to your door. I can imagine the formation of a combination warehouse store/distribution center. 😀

      1. Because Amazon has content that runs on iOS apps in the form of books and video and they could have an apple tv app if they wanted.
        This is a slippery slope for Amazon and an all around dumb decision.

        1. Dumb decisions are not monopolistic and they damn sure aren’t illegal (or the Obama Administration would be in jail….).

          I would LOVE for my Prime subscription to be available on Apple TV. Since I got rid of my Mini used as a media hub I now have to get a Firestick just for Prime.

          Also, since Prime membership is handled through the Amazon web site, I see no reason they would need to share revenue with Apple for a free app. Isn’t that why Netflix took so long to have app sign up?

  3. “Amazon asserts that it’s taking action against Apple TV and Chromecast because the devices are incompatible with Prime Video,…”

    This implies that Apple was the first mover in this spat.

  4. Heck, I wouldn’t expect Microsoft stores to sell Apple products. If they did, they might be profitable!
    BTW, Amazon product search has been a joke for many months. The product search results used to seem impartial but in the last year or so, the results seem like clumsy misdirection.

  5. The goal of any company is to become a monopoly. Anyone who has ever owned a company, uh, who wants competition to drive you out of business? I certainly don’t, and I’ve never met anyone who’s wanted that either.

    The job of the regulators is to ensure if a natural monopoly occurs, which is completely legal, that it does not then abuse that monopoly in order to keep it.

    Amazon can do as they wish, no regulation required here. There are dozens of great online retails and local outlets to buy product from – and clearly we all do.

    If Amazon wants to slit their wrists, they can feel free to do so. I’m buying an Apple TV, and clearly they do not want my business. Their choice, and I certainly still have mine.

  6. I don’t think this is as malicious as everyone thinks. I doubt they’re trying to force Apple to lower the 30% pricing, because you can’t sign up for Amazon Prime through the Amazon VOD app anyway, afaik. Why would they even want you to? VOD is just one perk of Amazon Prime, so why would they want to share any percentage of that sale with Apple? Also, Apple already allows Amazon’s Prime Video app on iPhone and iPad, so there’s no reason to think they would ban it from the new Apple TV. Most likely Amazon just decided to stop selling the current generation Apple TV and Chromecast because the next generation versions are out soon and both will support native apps. Why would they continue selling a media center device that doesn’t support their VOD service when ones that will are coming out within the next few weeks?

    1. Amazon also charges 30% to sell on their site and they can do the same thing they do with Kindle which is sell the content on the Amazon site and consume it on the Apple device.
      This is about Amazon desperately trying to get people to buy Fire TV’s.

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