October 2, 2015 Last Updated 4:58 pm

Amazon’s motivation for pulling Apple TV and Chromecast from its online offerings a mystery

The blame game begins in the media, but no one knows precisely why Amazon is pulling Apple and Google TV products, but TV platform war likely to heat up next year

The TV wars may be heating up, but so is the fog of war. Media outlets are reporting on Amazon’s decision to pull Apple TV and Google Chromecast products, and not let other retail partners list the products on their Amazon pages, but no one really knows the answer to why this is being done.

“We’re seeing a turf war play out between Apple, Amazon and Google,” the NYT quoted one analyst.

FireTV-400Is really Amazon retaliating against both platforms for not letting Amazon have an app on their TV systems? Maybe, but there have so far been no reports that Amazon has submitted an Apple TV app to Apple that has been rejected. Amazon currently has an app on the Roku system, and its Amazon Video app for mobile products is in the App Store and Google Play.

“This has the potential to hurt Amazon as much as it does Apple and Google,” Bloomberg quotes Barbara Kraus, an analyst at Parks Associates. “As a retailer, I want to give people a reason to come to me. When I take out best-selling brands, I take away those reasons.”

One can speculate all one wants, so it is better to understand what all this means: like eBooks, the TV platforms are going to fragmented unless things change. That means that if you want to access Prime Videos you will need to hook up a Fire TV to your HDTV, if you want Apple Movie you’ll need an Apple TV. To make this split more solid, Amazon may need to pull out of Roku’s app store (I doubt they’ll do, though).

This may seem outside the interests of digital publishers but you need to remember that with the introduction of tvOS, a lot of publishers are seriously considering jumping into the streaming TV space. Several already are there, though with rather rudimentary offerings. With TV moving towards apps, the number of publishing brands that may introduce their own TV channels, even if only collections of videos from their library, will grow.

Like digital publishing platforms, where building an app for iOS does not get you into Google Play or Amazon, the TV app markets looks like it will require building for each platform. Some might have hoped that building for one platform, say Amazon, would mean that get you everywhere.

Yes, I can hear it now, but Amazon currently doesn’t have a TV app store. Yes, but it will. For now this is about where you will buy or rent your movies and TV shows, but if Apple can convince broadcasters, publishers, studios, independent producers, to build tvOS apps for the Apple TV, you’ll soon see every competitor to Apple replicating the TV app store idea.

Meanwhile, I’m sure there are media and tech observers salivating over the idea of a turf war between Amazon, Google and Apple.

We’ve seen these platform wars before: those old enough will remember the battle between VHS and Betamax. This isn’t, of course, quite to that level yet. The reason is the fragmentation in the smartphone market between iOS and Android, and in the eBook and other markets. What the platform owners are finding difficult is arranging to have exclusive content on their devices. If you want to access Netflix, for instance, any TV streaming device will suffice. If you want to rent movies and TV shows, any device will suffice. It is unlikely that a TV viewer will choose to buy one device over another because they want to access the Saveur video channel (which currently is only available through Roku but I’m sure we’ll see next on the Apple TV).

So, having a turf war seems silly, but maybe Amazon sees its Prime membership as its trump card… or is it Apple who wants an exclusive for movies and Tv shows on its Apple TV? Who knows, but I’m sure there may be a question about this come the next round of earnings conference calls scheduled for later this month.

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