Amazon-Apple TV deal shows tough road to cooperation for tech rivals

Tue Jun 6, 2017 6:03am EDT
 
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By Jeffrey Dastin

SAN FRANCISCO, (Reuters) - A deal bringing Amazon Prime Video to Apple TV, announced on Monday at Apple Inc's developer conference after years of talk, shows how competitive tensions among Silicon Valley titans can stand in the way of serving customers.

The logic of linking Apple TV, a device for watching television over the internet, with Amazon.com Inc's booming video-streaming service looks obvious.

Apple needs great video to sell its TV player. Amazon needs places to stream its TV shows so that people sign up for its Prime club to watch them - and buy more toilet paper, too. Viewers want to watch their favorite programs on whatever device they choose.

Yet Monday's announcement, rather than being routine, was the result of a negotiation stretching back at least to 2015 when Amazon stopped selling Apple TVs on its retail site.

Amazon had explained that move by saying it wanted to avoid confusing customers who would expect Prime Video to be on devices sold by Amazon. Critics instead saw a negotiating tactic to get Prime Video onto the Apple device, and a prod for people to buy Amazon's competing Fire TV players.

"Whenever these companies try to freeze each other out, the consumer always loses," said Paul Verna, an analyst at research firm eMarketer.

Amazon and Apple declined to comment on how their differences have affected customers. The companies said Amazon shows will be available on Apple TV later this year, but did not specify a date.

Streaming is not the only example where a spat between Apple and Amazon limited customer choice. Amazon's popular voice-controlled speaker, the Echo, can be told to play songs from an Amazon music account or even Spotify, but not from Apple Music.   Continued...

 
Tim Cook, CEO, speaks about Amazon during Apple's annual world wide developer conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California, U.S. June 5, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam