At first Primecast seemed like an excellent solution to a problem that had been frustrating many users of Amazon’s video service. But the app, which allowed Amazon’s on-demand videos to be watched via Chromecast, did not last long.
Shortly after release, Primecast was withdrawn form Google Play. Initially the developers posted a somewhat cryptic message on their website explaining the removal, before clarifying that they had been “locked out”.
Even the clarification did not serve as a full explanation. Given that those who had already downloaded the app found that it was no longer functioning, the most plausible reasoning for the withdrawal is that the app was blocked from accessing Amazon’s APIs.
Primecast was a paid app, but the developers confirmed in a comment posted on Android Police that refunds will be provided to anyone who wants their money back.
“Everyone who requests a refund gets it immediately.” the developers stated.
The developers’ unequivocal offer of immediate refunds will be welcomed by many. There was still some criticism by commenters on Android Police, though.
Those who felt that the developers had mishandled the situation may have been reassured if the issue of refunds had been addressed on the Primecast website. At the time of writing, the only mention of refunds on the official site relates to issues of audio and video quality, and was posted before the app was withdrawn from Google Play.
Despite the difficulties they faced attempting to launch Primecast, the developers say that they have received a significant amount of encouragement from the Android community.
“We get a lot of support from users who reach out asking us to keep their money,” the developers stated. “I don’t know, it may have something to do with the fact that they appreciate the work that went into this.”
Streaming Amazon on-demand video via Chromecast
It seems unlikely that Amazon would welcome indie developers creating new solutions to allow customers to watch its content using Chromecast. With Primecast it was only possible to view video that had been purchased legally, but there are other issues that will be of concern to Amazon.
Some users are likely to be worried about the security implications of using third-party apps.
Users were required to login to their Amazon account using Primecast. As Amazon accounts typically store payment information, and can also be used to access other services such as Audible, it is likely that there would be a general reluctance to enter usernames and passwords into a third-party app.
But none of this explains why Amazon has not integrated Chromecast support into its official Android app. Doing so should not present any particular technical challenges as Chromecast was adopted quickly by rival services such as Blinkbox, Wuaki.tv and Netflix.
Amazon has its own hardware solutions for watching on-demand video, such as Fire TV and the Chromecast-rivalling Fire TV Stick – the latter not yet available in Europe, and set to be released in the United States next month.
In online discussions, there has been speculation that the lack of Chromecast support is due to Amazon seeking to increase sales of its own hardware. Android Wafer does not believe this to be the case, though, as products like Fire TV and Fire TV Stick are likely being sold with negligible margins.
It appears as if Amazon wishes to maintain as much control as possible over its own ecosystem, in order to maximise long-term market share and profitability.
If Amazon was to offer its video on-demand content via Chromecast, for example, it would be providing a reason for its customers to buy in – or remain loyal – to Google’s ecosystem. Amazon would also have to develop its products in order to comply with the standards established by a rival.
The downside to Amazon’s approach is that it restricts choice. It could also be perceived negatively by Amazon customers when compared to the more diverse approaches taken with the likes of Google Play Moves & TV, Blinkbox, Wuaki.tv and Netflix.
[via Android Police]