Amazon and Apple may have reached a truce.
The tech giants, who are increasingly competing for customers’ time, eyeballs and money, are close to an agreement to bring an Amazon video app to Apple’s Apple TV set-top box, according to people familiar with the two companies.
Amazon employees expect the app to show up on Apple’s hardware in the third quarter of the year.
That move would allow Amazon Prime Video subscribers to easily watch TV shows and movies from the service using Apple TV.
For the past few years, Amazon subscribers have only been able to watch their shows on Apple TV using Apple’s comparatively cumbersome Airplay system, which involves connecting another Apple product, like an iPhone, to an Apple TV using a Wi-Fi connection.
We don’t know whether the agreement between the two companies means that they have also settled other disputes involving their rival video ambitions.
Amazon, for instance, stopped selling Apple TV boxes on its online store in the fall of 2015. And while an Amazon video app exists for Apple iOS devices, it’s a crippled version of the app, one that doesn’t allow users to buy or rent individual programs without visiting Amazon first.
Reps from Apple and Amazon declined to comment.
It’s unclear what got the two companies to reach an agreement, though some industry observers suggest that any pact would have been worked out, at a high level, by CEOs Tim Cook and Jeff Bezos.
Both Apple and Amazon want to be the primary sources of entertainment in their customers’ homes, and in some cases the two offer products that compete directly with each other.
Amazon, for instance, sells Fire TV sticks and boxes that bring video to TV sets, just like Apple TV boxes do. Other products are more complementary, at least for now. Apple has yet to launch a streaming video service like Amazon provides via its Prime subscription offering.
At last year’s Code Conference, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos wouldn’t go into detail about the dispute between the two companies, telling the audience that “private business discussions should remain private.”
But Bezos did talk a bit about the reason Amazon stopped selling Apple TVs. He said he didn’t want his customers to buy a device that wasn’t compatible with Amazon’s video app:
“We want our player, our Prime Video player, to be on the device, and we want it to be on the device with acceptable business terms. And so, you can always get the player on the device; the question is can you do so with acceptable business terms. And if you can’t, then we don’t want to sell it to our customers, because they’re going to be buying it thinking they can watch Prime Video and then they’re going to be disappointed. And they’re going to return it.”
The deal talks come at a time when Amazon’s video business has become increasingly important to Prime, the $99 annual membership that fuels the company’s dominance in online retail.
“We’ve been able to monitor the people who use Prime Video … they renew [Prime memberships] at higher rates and they convert from free trial at higher rates,” Bezos said during the same Code Conference interview.