Slate Writer Clueless About Amazon, Apple And Free Markets


Streaming video has hit the big time. I’d rather pay $4.99 to stream a movie on demand than drive to the store to get a movie for $1 at Redbox. The convenience factor is worth it. In order to stream content, people purchase a variety of different types of streaming devices – Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Xbox, smart TV’s, Amazon Fire TV – in order to access it.

All of them have advantages and disadvantages. As consumers we are given plenty of information to make informed choices and we purchase what suits us best. It’s a beautiful thing.

Alison Griswold at Slate however, thinks otherwise. As a staff writer that covers business and economics, she appears to have a very poor grasp of both.

Amazon has made the decision not to sell Google or Apple streaming devices in their marketplace: Inc. will stop selling media-streaming devices from Google Inc. and Apple Inc. that aren’t easily compatible with its video service, the latest example of the company using its clout to promote products that fit with its own retailing strategy.

The Seattle-based Web retailer sent an e-mail to its marketplace sellers that it will stop selling the Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast since those devices don’t “interact well” with Prime Video. No new listings for the products will be allowed and posting of existing inventory will be removed Oct. 29, Amazon said. Prime Video doesn’t run easily on its rival’s hardware.

Ok, so what? There are plenty of places to purchase those devices. Oh but not to Griswold. She actually believes this may be an anti-trust violation:

But where those consumers might see an inconvenience, Amazon has surely identified a conversion opportunity—prevent them from purchasing Apple TVs and Google Chromecasts, and maybe more will switch their loyalties to Prime.

It will be interesting to see whether Amazon’s move with regard to streaming content raises any antitrust flags. Generally speaking, a company has breached antitrust laws when it has a monopoly and uses that monopoly to stifle competition. Amazon blocking sales of Apple and Google streaming devices would certainly suggest competition stifling, but is Amazon’s chunk of the market great enough to make that illegal?

I had to double check to make sure this was not an article published at Cracked or The Onion.

I have a question for Ms. Griswold:

Have you ever tried to purchase an Amazon Fire TV from the Apple store?

Not only can you not get an Amazon Fire TV streaming device at the Apple store, you can’t get Amazon Prime Video on the Apple TV. Somebody phone the SEC! This outrage of not being able to view Amazon Prime movies on my television with an Apple TV is an absolute….outrage!

Hold on a moment. Actually, I can use Apple’s airplay to stream Amazon Prime video content from iPhone or iPad to my television.

Never mind. 

What’s worse about Griswold’s view of all of this is not only does she think this may be illegal on Amazon’s part, she actually thinks this is censorship on the part of Amazon.

I find it nearly impossible to wrap my head around such a breathlessly incoherent and ignorant viewpoint. Has Griswold never heard of Best Buy? Target? Walmart? All of them sell the Apple TV and Chromecast.

Amazon is not engaging in censorship and the idea that not selling an on item on their website constitutes an anti-trust violation on the grounds that it stifles competition is one of the most absurd conclusions one could reach.

When the government starts directing Amazon what to sell and not sell, I’ll start to worry.



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