On December 5th, Amazon filed applications for two trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). One was for AMAZONTUBE. The timing was interesting. December 5th is the same day that Google removed YouTube access from Echo Show for the second time and announced the service would no longer be available to FireTV Stick users after January 1st. That left Amazon without a major video service on Echo Show and introduced a significant threat to its FireTV franchise. Here is some of the language from the AMAZONTUBE USPTO filing:
“Providing non-downloadable pre-recorded audio, visual and audiovisual works via wireless networks on a variety of topics of general interest; Entertainment and educational services, namely, providing online portals, podcasts, webcasts, web-based applications, blogs, news, articles, multimedia presentations, and commentary in the fields of entertainment, movies, television, audiovisual works, music, audio works, books, theatre, literary works, sporting events, recreational activities, leisure activities in the nature of hobbies, sports tournaments, art, dance, musicals, culture, sporting exhibitions and educational and entertainment exhibitions in the nature of current events, sports instruction, clubs, radio, comedy, contests, visual works of art, games…”
The other filing that same day was for OPENTUBE. It has essentially the same filing language with the OPENTUBE name and artwork. It is not particularly creative branding so it does strengthen an argument that the effort on that day was related to YouTube’s actions. Was Amazon simply sending a message?
Sounds Like YouTube
The description of the trademark filing sounds a lot like a YouTube competitor. On December 12th, Amazon brought its Twitch video service to Echo Show. Twitch has an impressive 100 million monthly active users, but it doesn’t yet have the mass adoption and enormous variety and scale of YouTube’s video catalog. It is mostly known for live streaming by gamers. Video is critical for Amazon and as a mass market player, it needs more than niche video products to serve its customers.
You might assume that the row over Echo Show and FireTV precipitated this move, but video has been central to Amazon’s strategy for some time and this was likely in the works for more than a year. Voicebot reported earlier that Amazon rehired one of its long-time video experts in March 2017. Amazon is already a big player in video considering both the Prime Video and Twitch. It is not unreasonable to assume that it might want to challenge Google’s near monopoly on user generated video.
Don’t Expect AMAZONTUBE Anytime Soon
The Twitch acquisition has certainly taught Amazon a lot about user generated video content. Amazon has some unique assets to challenge YouTube because of its current video platforms and AWS that provides rapid scalability for hosting content and keeping costs reasonable. It also has a large user base, name recognition and a growing global footprint to draw from. The likelihood of an Amazon rival to YouTube is certainly rising. Video is central to Amazon’s strategy and the company certainly doesn’t want to be beholden to a tech rival like Google.
However, putting this together at scale doesn’t happen overnight. YouTube is years ahead of Amazon in user generated video content and management know-how. In the interim, Amazon appears to see the value of providing YouTube access for users of its electronics products.
CNET reported last week that Amazon is attempting to reduce tensions in the ongoing feud with Google and has created product pages for selling Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra again in the online store. Neither are available for sale yet and a search on Amazon.com for “Chromecast” offers several FireTV and other competitive offerings.
Credit goes to the TVanswerman blog for first noticing the Amazon filings.