Blocking The Stream

If you’re typical of most consumers these days, you spent part of the past week watching streaming video. I watch a fair amount of it, and I like to use a Chromecast to stream it on the big screen TV. I’m a subscriber to the big 3 video services – Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon – and use my TV provider to authenticate streaming of other services such as ESPN3. It all works quite well with one exception, and that’s our topic – and business point – today.

Deutsch: Logo von Amazon.com

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nearly every app or every service supports streaming to the Chromecast with one major exception: Amazon. Because of that, I find that I use my Amazon subscription far less than I do Netflix or Hulu. It’s not that they have inferior content. Far from it: there are many things I’d like to stream. The issue is that I don’t like watching things on my computer or phone since I’m usually using one or both while watching. So why doesn’t the service support Chromecasting? As one article pointed out:

Google allows any app developer to add Chromecast support to their iOS or Android app. There is no technical or policy limitation that prevents Prime Video from “interacting well” with the Chromecast. And Amazon has made no statement indicating why they refuse to support it.

In a word, business. There are no technical reasons why Amazon hasn’t built Chromecast support into their service, but they have chosen to ignore a user base that is almost 20 million opportunities strong (the number of Chromecasts out there). The war between the two – Amazon and Google – has become so heated that as of last Fall Amazon no longer even sells Chromecasts in their store (go ahead and check – I’ll wait). You might think that it’s because Amazon wants to push their own FireTV devices, but the fight is much bigger than that. The business point is that it doesn’t matter who believes they’ll win. We – the consumers – are the losers.

I’m a big Amazon fan (and shopper!) and have been an Amazon Prime user since the first day it was offered. This, however, is terribly misguided thinking on their part.  Yes, I’m aware that I can use a browser extension to mirror my phone or screen and cast Amazon video that way, but it’s a much inferior user experience.  This is a rare, but big, misstep on Amazon’s part. As businesses, we can’t be placing customers in the middle of our business disputes.  We might think that we’re hurting a competitor but what competitors aren’t also in business together somehow these days?  Moreover, this thinking by Amazon flunks the most basic business test we need to apply to any thinking: is this good for my customers and will it enhance the value of my product or service if I proceed?  Not in this case.  Agreed?

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