Amazon and Google’s smart TV feud is over

Amazon and Google’s smart TV feud is over

Hello and welcome to Protocol Entertainment, Your guide to the business of the gaming and media industries. This Thursday, we’re taking a closer look at Amazon’s new smart TV partner and what the comparison says about the competition in the TV platform space. Plus: new metaverse stats and some thoughts on how AI will change our understanding of history.

Why is Amazon’s new smart TV partnership so important?

Amazon on Thursday announced a new hardware partnership with TCL, a longtime Google partner. The move marks the end of one of the e-commerce giant’s simmering disputes with a key rival in the smart TV space.

The Chinese consumer electronics company is unveiling two new QLED smart TVs in 50″ and 55″ screen sizes, powered by Amazon’s Fire TV operating system in Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.

This partnership is a huge win for Amazon, who had been looking to partner with TCL for years. The Chinese company was equally interested in making Fire TV devices, but was prevented from doing so by Google.

  • The problem: TCL is also making smart TVs running Google’s Android TV operating system and has been selling Android phones and Google apps.
  • For years, Google has used its Android licensing policies to prevent companies like TCL from using what it considers “incompatible” versions of Android, including Amazon’s Fire OS.
  • These licensing deals even applied across device categories: if TCL had built a smart TV with Fire TV, it would have risked losing the ability to ship Android phones with Google apps.
  • These restrictions effectively prevented Amazon from doing business with most smart TV manufacturers, as I was first to report early 2020.

TCL strove to overcome those restrictions, and the company even turned to creative corporate games to do so.

  • One of the loopholes in Google’s policy has long been that manufacturers can make devices running forked versions of Android if they’re doing so on behalf of other companies, an acknowledgment of the fact that only a handful of Chinese manufacturers actually make all of them. our electronic products.
  • TCL wanted to take advantage of that loophole, but also use the power of its own brand.
  • To do this, the television manufacturer created a ghost company called Fortune Genesis Corporation, which then licensed the TCL trademark from TCL for inclusion on TCL-manufactured products.
  • As a test balloon for this, Fortune Genesis announced a TCL-branded smart soundbar running Amazon’s Fire TV operating system at CES 2020.
  • However, Google saw through those efforts and thoroughly rebuked TCL. The company changed its mind, recalled the sound bar, and the Fortune Genesis was never heard from again.

Now, TCL is openly doing Fire TV, And it’s not the only major consumer electronics manufacturer to do so. Amazon announced similar partnerships with Hisense and Xiaomi, which also make a variety of devices based on Google’s Android operating system, earlier this year.

  • The reason for this change: Google and Amazon have quietly made peace on the issue, as far as I could Exclusive report for Protocol today.
  • Google hasn’t changed its stance on Google’s compatibility requirements entirely, but has reached an agreement with Amazon to allow the retailer to partner with these TV makers, a source close to one of the parties involved in the deal told me. .
  • This could give Google some breathing space from regulators, who have been investigating the company for anti-competitive behavior in the US, Europe and Asia.

The deal also comes at an opportune time for Amazon. Fire TV streaming adapters have been selling very well for years, but consumers are increasingly choosing smart TVs over dongles.

  • Daniel Rausch, Vice President of Entertainment Devices at Amazon, acknowledged this during a briefing on the two new TCL Fire TVs this week, telling me, “TVs are now the fastest growing part of the Fire TV business overall.” .
  • Rausch declined to comment on Amazon’s relationship with Google, but did say that Fire TV has been going through a bit of a moment of late, to the point where Amazon has sold more than 150 million smart TVs and streaming adapters powered by Google. on FireTV. SO all over the world.
  • “We got to the point where we have over 160 different TV models around the world that have built-in Fire TV as their operating system,” Rausch said.

And since Google no longer blocks partnerships with Android device makers, that number is about to grow.

— Janko Roettgers

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The metaverse is already here, more or less

Investors may take issue with Meta’s nonchalant metaverse spending, but that’s not stopping ordinary people from adopting metaverse-like platforms en masse. That is the essence of a new report from Michael Wolf’s Activate Consulting this week.

  • Activate surveyed over 3,000 consumers about their use of online games and metaverse platforms and found that 77% of gamers engaged in non-metaverse gaming-related activities within video games in the past 12 months.
  • These included watching movies, shows, and other videos (48%), socializing (47%), creating and customizing avatars (34%), and creating virtual places (24%).
  • That’s good news for companies banking on developing metaverse platforms, but the monetization path for brands looking to sell their wares in the metaverse may be less clear. Only 18% of respondents said they had purchased physical goods in games in the last 12 months.
  • As always, there is a huge gap between superusers and ordinary people: 81% of superusers spent time in games and metaverse-type platforms like Roblox, Fortnite and VRChat in the last 12 months, while only 21% of all other respondents professed to have done so, according to another Activate survey.
  • VR itself remains a small contributor to these trends, but the headset could become something of a gateway drug: Only 25% of headset owners told Activate they bought their device for social interactions, but 43% % ended up using it for that purpose
  • 55% of headset owners told Activate that they use the headset at least once a week, but 47% of VR sessions last 15 minutes or less.

— Janko Roettgers

In other news

Spotify says Apple is sabotaging its audiobook store. Spotify wants to avoid Apple’s 30% App Store fees, but He says doing so is cumbersome and subject to arbitrarily modified rules.

Activision Blizzard is running out of legal options. the editor failed a second time while trying to get a sexual harassment lawsuit dismissed in California on a technicality.

YouTube revenue fell 2% in the third quarter. A decrease in YouTube advertising resulted in a slowdown in the growth of YouTube and Google’s parent company, Alphabet.

More of CD Projekt Red’s big Witcher ambitions revealed. The Polish studio behind the hit RPG said on Wednesday that remake the first game in the series using Epic’s Unreal Engine 5.

Spotify will raise subscription prices next year. the price increase comes after apple and google high prices for their respective music subscription services.

Players are more prone to racism and sexism, according to a new study by non-profit organization Take This. The researchers say their findings provide a link between “extreme behaviors” and how strongly someone identifies with gaming culture.

HaptX introduces a new wearable haptic glove. the gloves G1which use pneumatic and microfluidic systems to reproduce the sensation of touch in virtual reality, will cost $5,500 a pair and will come with a backpack for portability.

Microsoft has reportedly canceled plans for a consumer AR headset. The future of its HoloLens enterprise AR headset also looks uncertain, according to The Wall Street Journal.

the end of the story

Much has been written recently about the future of AI and synthetic media. This week, filmmaker and archivist Rick Prelinger, who, among other things, is the founder of the Prelinger Archivestook to Twitter to address a different topic: What will AI do for our understanding of history?

“Generative AI will soon be everywhere and will literally ‘make history’ by sampling existing images,” Prelinger wrote. “The story will gain a certain shine. It is expected to be in color or coloured; bring individual faces to the fore; be high resolution and immersive.” This could spark a backlash, he argued, with some seeking the authenticity of the original footage. “But by then the unspoken rules of representation will have changed. Generative AI may be mocked, but its place will be firm, just as tabloid history has come to dominate television historical documents.” the whole thread is fine worth your time.

— Janko Roettgers

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Thoughts, questions, advice? Send them to entertainment@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

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