Amazon is one of the most successful companies in the world for a reason: their execution and understanding of business. In this article, it states that over half a dozen hardware vendors have indicated that they cannot enter into an Amazon TV manufacturing relationship due to fear of retaliation from Google, escalating tension with the search giant whom they compete on many businesses.
Amazon revealed on Thursday that its Indian unit testified in a probe by Competition Commission of India into Google’s alleged dominance of Android. The company will now pay a $162 million fine for abusing their dominant position in the market.
Here’s what Amazon told the CCI:
Amazon has explored working with mobile OEMs/ODMs/CMs who also manufacture non-mobile smart media devices, such as smart TVs, to enable those manufacturers to distribute non-mobile smart media devices (including smart TVs) running the Fire OS (e.g., Fire TV Edition (FTVE) for smart TVs). In these discussions with OEMs, at least seven OEMs have indicated that their ability to enter into a manufacturing relationship of this kind with Amazon is either blocked entirely or significantly limited (e.g., in terms of geographic scope) by their contractual commitments to Google and the concern that Google would retaliate against another of the OEM’s businesses that produce Android devices.
Even if investigations are completed, companies that have been targeted by the Competition Commission of India don’t always speak freely. But Amazon seemed incredibly eager to share its comments during the investigation. It turns out that the company participated in the interviews, even offering advice and opinions on several pages within their order document.
Amazon is alleging that some manufacturers of smart TVs have indicated that they cannot work with Amazon despite any professed desire to do so. They have concerns that the company’s relationship with other platforms could put their Google Play Music software at risk.
Google has rejected numerous attempts from firms to partner with Amazon, which didn’t give a reason for the decision.
In others, the OEM has tried and failed to obtain “permission” from Google. For example, such discussions occurred with Skyworth, TPV (with respect to the Philips brand), UMC (with respect to the Sharp brand), Foxconn (with respect to the Sharp brand), and Panasonic. Panasonic also shared concerns about possible retaliation by Google against its automotive and aviation businesses if it proceeded with FTVE installation on smart TVs.
Amazon also said they found multiple smartphone vendors stating that they were forced to contract with Google if they wanted their devices to sell on Amazon. This was not beneficial to the growth of Amazon’s own mobile browser, Silk.
This impacted Amazon Silk adoption because Amazon’s research at the time showed that the default browser was used by 58% of users, leaving Amazon Silk to compete with other web browsers such as Opera, Firefox, and UC for the minority of users not using the default browser.
Another possible barrier to distribution was the request from OEMs that Amazon pay significant amounts in order to be pre-installed onto the device, but even with payment, OEMs would make no guarantees as to app placement or willingness to forego the Chrome browser as the default browser (which would require them to remove the Google Play Store and other Google apps).
(On a side note, Amazon said it explored distribution deals with Reliance Jio, Micromax and Intel — all of which are companies in the retail space. But these discussions did not lead to meaningful success for Silk.)
Amazon was considering licensing Android for their Fire OS device because of the barriers created by the lack of Google services. However, given the risk this would have on Amazon‘s future product portfolio, they decided against it and kept Android closed-source instead.
A key reason why the Fire Phone couldn’t be a success is that it was hamstrung by missing apps on Google Play.