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25 April 2019

Amazon, Google settlement is harbinger for voice market unity

The breaking of bread between Amazon and Google late last week represents much more than belatedly putting to bed a long-standing spat. With Alexa now supporting YouTube across additional Amazon hardware, and Google Assistant embracing Prime Video on Google streaming devices, the move encourages cross-collaboration across the voice technology ecosystem – nourishing the soil for vendors and services to flourish.

Specifically, in the coming months, the YouTube app will launch on Amazon Fire TV devices and Fire TV Edition smart TVs, while Prime Video will arrive across Android TV device partners – finally receiving Chromecast compatibility. Later this year, the YouTube TV and YouTube Kids apps will land on Fire TV.

Our opening sentiment is perhaps most relevant for Android TV operator tier rather than any other platform due to its open approach and the abundance of OTT video technology vendors winning deals on the back of it, a trend which is on the cusp of breaking the US market.

The surprise streaming video agreement between Amazon and Google follows on from the very public fall out over blocking sales of Chromecast devices, prompting Google to shut off access to YouTube on the Amazon Show smart speaker (the one with a screen). This particular quarrel was settled last year, as the omission of YouTube from any device frankly isn’t a scenario even Amazon could survive without. After all, they make a decent team, with YouTube supporting countless budding content creators and Alexa offering opportunities via some 40,000 Skills.

Strangely though, not a single mention of Alexa or Google Assistant graced the official announcement, although we can safely assume this is part and parcel of the agreement – and is another small shift in the Faultline towards our image of a future where multiple voice assistants live in harmony and the lines increasingly blur. That does, admittedly, seem a far cry from the fiery voice sector we see today.

So, the latest settlement suggests that while the war is far from over between the two technology heavyweights, there is at least an agreement that blocking access of services and halting hardware sales are petty disputes that do not represent the interests of the broader industry.