Amazon threatens manufacturers to force them to share customer data

The Wall Street Journal reveals how Amazon pressured Ecobee to share customer data for its products with Alexa. The firm has gone so far as to threaten Ecobee with sanctions, including no longer being able to participate in the lucrative Prime Days. The platform would especially put this kind of pressure on small and medium-sized businesses, which could disappear if they saw their access to Amazon cut off. For its part, Ecobeee is continuing negotiations but fears that this request is against its rules on privacy, or even that Amazon will take the opportunity to copy its products.

Credits: Marco Verch via CCNULL

The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon pressured smart thermostat maker Ecobee to force it to share customer data. Ecobee was already sharing some data with Amazon, for example when its accessories receive an Alexa command, but what Amazon is asking for goes further: the company wants permanent access to the status of Ecobee products, such as the temperature at any time or if the user doors are locked.

Ecobee hesitated at first: the manufacturer is only an SME very dependent on Amazon – especially as Jeff Bezos’ firm has minority shares in the company. But at the same time, this request goes too far by infringing on the privacy of Ecobee customers.. And there is also the very real risk that Amazon will use this data to launch a product competing with Ecobee solutions. Because Amazon apparently also competes with the companies it finances.

Read also: Competition – Europe presents its plan to fight Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft

Amazon threatened Ecobee to exclude it from some lucrative operations

Not to mention the fact that Amazon has already been accused of spying on sellers in the marketplace to better compete with them. When Ecobee dared to refuse this request, Amazon has warned officials that a denial could exclude the firm’s products from sales operations like Amazon Prime Days or even prevent future Ecobee products from using the Alexa assistant. When you know Amazon’s market share in online commerce (more than 40% of the market in the United States) and the assistants, it gives food for thought.

Even a partial exclusion from Amazon services can turn into a real death sentence for this kind of medium-sized players. very dependent on online commerce. As a result, Ecobee had no choice but to continue negotiations – still ongoing at the time of this writing.

This is not the first time that this kind of Amazon practice has been exposed. The props maker PopSockets LLC recounts that Amazon employees allow themselves to threaten simply because of the size and power of the e-commerce giant. In a testimony before the American House of Representatives antitrust subcommittee, PopSockets boss David Barnett recounts how Amazon promised him to better fight against counterfeit PopSockets LLC items. provided that the firm is ready to increase its advertising budget on the platform.

Most firms have no choice but to tolerate pressure from Amazon

Amazon does not normally charge for the fight against counterfeits which is otherwise an absolute legal obligation. We can also mention the case of HBO: the two firms have an agreement to broadcast content on Prime Video. But when HBO Max launched, AT&T has asked Amazon not to include the new channel on its platform.

Amazon then retorted thatthey would not be entitled to application on Fire TV if they don’t agree to stream HBO Max on Prime Video. And these stories are just a small selection of cases reported by the Wall Street Journal. For his part, Amazon Says These Practices Are Intended To Improve The Customer Experience.

Regarding the case of Ecobee, the spokesperson for the firm Jack Evans says that permanent access to Ecobee customer data should allow them to deliver better recommendations, while recalling that this data collection was accepted by users when linking their Amazon account with Ecobee.

While American parliamentarians are currently investigating Amazon’s practices, the firm is defending itself from any anti-competitive practice. The firm mentions in particular for the case of HBO occasions during which Amazon and a firm can “explore transversal partnerships with Amazon’s business units”.

Source: WSJ

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