The Titans of Silicon Valley have long battled for control of the television, that stubborn holdout in the living room that has long resisted being dragged into the Internet age. This battle heated up last week when Amazon banned the sale of Apple TV or Google’s Chromecast units on its site. The announcement triggered a deluge of criticism, including calls by some to investigate whether the decision violates antitrust laws. But these calls are misguided. Amazon’s new strategy likely falls in the “unwise but not illegal” category. Consumers can – and likely will – make their displeasure known through market behavior, without the need for a regulator to help Amazon get the message.
The flap began last week. On Thursday, Amazon informed its Marketplace vendors that, beginning October 29, the company would stop selling Chromecast and Apple TV devices, and that no listings of the devices would be allowed after that date. Amazon’s stated reason is that these devices do not “interact well” with the company’s Prime Video streaming service. The company explained that “it is important that the streaming media players that we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion.”