Monday, March 5, 2018

Mom, Dad: Please Stop Fighting

On Friday last week, Business Insider posted an article that stated Amazon will stop selling Nest products including thermostats and home security products.  Nest, which is owned by Alphabet (Google), was apparently expecting the call.

This is the latest in a long standing retail feud between the two Internet giants:

  • Amazon would not sell the Chromecast for a long time ostensibly because it did not play back Amazon Prime Video in a way that Amazon liked.
  • Google pulled YouTube from Amazon's line of Fire products, but then relented when Amazon agreed to start selling the Chromecast... though they still aren't showing up on Amazon three months later.
  • Amazon does not stock the Google Home product that directly competes with its Echo line of smart speakers.
On the surface, it appears that Amazon is being the antagonist and using its e-tail power to try and curtail the Big-G.  Dig a little deeper and it is clear that both are holding their own share of the blame-bag.

Won't Somebody Think of the Kids...

Ultimately, the fight is not about the Chromecast or the Home or Alexa.  It's about all of us that use their products.  We're the kids in this metaphor.  These two giant parent figures want to know everything that there is about us so that they can raise us in their respective churches of advertising.

The more each of them know, the more they can target their advertising to our needs and tastes.  And the key to learning more about us is in these smart home products.  People who keep their homes at certain temperatures are more likely to buy warmer clothing.  Or cooler clothing.  Or maybe have pets that need food and toys and services.  And that is just one data point.  With Google Home or Amazon Echo (or both), they can add much more to that: musical tastes, news tastes, movie tastes, shopping lists.

... Or Stop Thinking of the Kids...

But we knew that they were collecting that data.  We've known it for a while.  What this fight is about is who gets access to it.  But why do they get to choose?  What about our needs?

Amazon, by refusing to sell Google product is attempting to limit our choice in who markets to us.  I get that.  But Google pulling YouTube means that they are slicing out a large market segment which seems dumb.  Instead, why can't both work.  If not together, then side-by-side.

... Or Let the Kids Think for Themselves

Let us mere mortal browsers, searchers, shoppers be the invisible hand that drives these info-parents.  Ultimately, we are in control of this and can tell them (with our wallets) what we like and don't like.  It is still really easy to buy Google products without Amazon.  It is still easy to watch YouTube even if you own a FireTV or Fire Tablet (or Fire Phone if you are one of those rare beasts).  There are other, arguably better, smart thermostats besides the Nest.

So, buy what you want to buy.  Don't let Mom and Dad make up our minds for us.  After all, they can't exist without us.

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