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Apple and Amazon, which have seen a rivalry emerge in areas like digital video and voice-activated devices, appear to be reaching something of a detente.
At Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple said that Amazon’s Prime app would be coming to the Apple TV app store. “As you know, Amazon Prime Video provides a wealth of great content,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “We are so pleased to welcome Amazon to Apple TV.”
The Prime Video app, which allows Amazon’s Prime subscribers to watch movies and TV on the iPhone and iPad, will be available later this year.
Until now, Amazon has withheld its video app from the Apple TV store. In October 2015, Amazon also banned Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast from the world’s largest ecommerce outlet. Amazon claimed those devices caused “customer confusion,” suggesting that it wanted to help sales of its Fire TV and preserve its ecosystem of Prime services. Other video players, such as Roku and Xbox, remained available for sale on Amazon.
Soon after the announcement, Amazon posted a tweet about the it that said, “You asked (a lot). We listened.” Asked by a customer whether Apple TVs would return to its e-commerce store, Amazon responded with a tweet saying, “Please stay tuned!”
You asked (a lot). We listened. Amazon Prime Video is coming to the TV App and all Apple TVs this year.
— Amazon Video (@AmazonVideo) June 5, 2017
I'm sorry, we don't have any information available on this. Please stay tuned! ^SB
— Amazon Help (@AmazonHelp) June 5, 2017
Apple also announced the HomePod, a voice-activated smart speaker with an array of seven tweeters, a four-inch subwoofer, a “spatial awareness” technology that tailors sound according to its surroundings, and voice control via Siri. The HomePod will not only compete against Amazon’s popular Echo, but Google Home and Sonos’ home speakers.
Unlike Echo, the HomePod is clearly aimed at the high-end of the market. It’s priced at $349 — while Echos costs between $49.99 and $179.99 – and features higher-quality sound while offering a far narrower set of skills than the 12,000 available on the Echo.
Taken together, the announcements suggest Apple and Amazon are finding ways to cooperate, perhaps to offer a united front against Google’s offerings such as Home and Play. Apple’s vision of a network of high-end devices that operate a home-entertainment system and Amazon’s desire to use Echo to lure consumers into its Prime service may allow the two companies to maintain an alliance that preserves their core ambitions.