Amazon Fire TV owners today lost their YouTube app four days earlier than expected, but they can still access the user-generated service using one of two web browsers recently added by Amazon.

At least for now, that is.

On December 5, Google posted a message on the YouTube app on Fire TV devices that it would remove the app on January 1. The Google warning was there until today when Fire TV owners were met with a message from Amazon when they clicked on the YouTube app.

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“Access YouTube and millions of other web sites by using a web browser such as Firefox or Silk. Click on one of the links below to access YouTube directly with the browser of your choice.”

It’s unclear if Google decided to remove the app early, or if Amazon removed it to begin getting Fire TV owners used to using a browser to access YouTube.

Amazon last week added the Silk and Firefox browsers to Fire TV in anticipation of talks between the companies failing to reach an agreement by January 1.

Google is protesting Amazon’s policy not to sell Google-owned products that compete with Amazon devices such as the Chromecast and Google Home. Google is also upset that Amazon will not permit its Amazon Video service to be offered on Chromecast.

It’s unclear if Google will continue to permit Fire TV users to access using a browser; Google has the ability to block them if it decides to do so.

The skirmish between two of the industry’s largest companies could take another strange twist before they reach a settlement, if that is, they ever do.

On December 5, the very day that Google posted the January 1 warning on the YouTube app, Amazon filed trademark requests for ‘Amazon Tube’ and ‘Open Tube.’ While Amazon does not mention YouTube in its applications, the lengthy descriptions for the two names bare an interesting similarity to YouTube’s main features.

Amazon says in its trademark applications that Amazon Tube and/or Open Tube would provide “non-downloadable pre-recorded audio, visual and audiovisual works via wireless networks on a variety of topics.”

Later in the description, Amazon says the new service would also provide “on-line network services that enable users to share content, photos videos, text, data, images and other electronic works relating to entertainment…”

Amazon has not commented on the trademark requests.

— Phillip Swann

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