An ugly battle is beginning between two of the world’s largest, and most influential companies. At the centre of this discourse is Nest, a popular manufacturer of smart devices for the home, and a subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet.
Amazon delayed Nest’s attempt to supply additional stock to Amazon’s online store, and queries as to why this was the case were ignored by the business. Eventually, Amazon said that it would no longer be stocking Nest products, and made a separate announcement that it was acquiring Ring, a direct competitor to Nest. This means that Amazon is prioritising its own products, and essentially doing away with the level playing field that it has taken years to cultivate.
But Google is no better. In an apparent,’ shot across the bow’ the online giant removed access to YouTube from Amazon’s Fire TV streaming service and its range of Echo products.
While corporate back-and-forth actions are relatively standard today, that two of the most important businesses on the planet would decide to battle so publicly is distasteful. But that’s not the major problem; the real issue is that consumers are set to suffer as a result of this type of behaviour. Where online services were supposed to drive down prices and increase competitive behaviours, this type of “get out of our backyard” strong-arming means that the average consumer will have access to less, not more. All of this comes back to the responsibility that digital businesses have now that some dominant players are comfortably positioned in the market.
Conspiracy theorists who became concerned that the online world would become dominated by a few blocks of power may have had reason to pull on their tinfoil hats. If this type of behaviour escalates, we can expect manufacturing restrictions, tariffs on goods from the “wrong” businesses, and a sense of corporate nationalism that we have never seen before. Of course, that is all a long way off but it is important that the fortunate few take responsibility for their place and this new, exciting world.