In the Amazon vs. YouTube War, Google is Right — and Wrong

You’ve probably heard that there’s an escalating “YouTube War” between Amazon and Google, that has now led to Google cutting of users of Amazon’s Fire and Echo Show products from YouTube, leaving legions of confused and upset users in the wake.

I’m no fan of Amazon. I intensely dislike their predatory business practices and the way that they treat many of their workers. I studiously avoid buying from Amazon.

Google has a number of completely legitimate grievances with Amazon. The latter has refused to carry key Google products that compete with Amazon products, while still designing those Amazon devices to access Google services like YouTube. Amazon has also played fast and loose with the YouTube Terms of Service in a number of ways.

I can understand Google finally getting fed up with this kind of Amazon behavior. Google is absolutely right to be upset.

However, Google is wrong in the approach that they’ve taken to deal with these issues, and this may do them considerable ongoing damage, even long after the current dispute is settled.

Cutting those Amazon device users off from YouTube with essentially a “go access YouTube some other way” message is not buying any good will from those users — exactly the opposite, in fact.

These users aren’t concerned about Google’s marketing issues, they just want to see the programming that they bought their devices to access — and YouTube is a major part of that.

As the firm that’s cutting off these users from YouTube, it’s Google that will take the brunt of user anger, and the situation unnecessarily sows distrust about Google’s behavior in the future. This can impact users’ overall feelings about Google in negative ways that go far beyond YouTube.

Worse, this kind of situation is providing long-term ammunition to Google haters who are looking for any excuses to try bring antitrust or other unwarranted regulatory focus onto Google itself.

Essentially, Amazon laid a trap for Google in this instance, and Google walked right into it.

There is a much better approach available to Google for dealing with this.

Rather than cutting off those Amazon device users, permit them to continue accessing YouTube, but only after presentation of a brief interstitial very succinctly explaining Google’s grievances with Amazon. Rather than making enemies of those users, bring them around to an understanding of Google’s point of view.

But above all, don’t punish those Amazon users by cutting them off from YouTube as you’re doing now.

Your righteous battle is with Amazon. But those Amazon device users should be treated as your allies in this war, not as your enemies!

And that’s the truth.


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