Amazon.com Inc. told smart thermostat maker Ecobee last year that it would have to provide the tech giant with data from its voice-controlled devices even if customers weren’t using it. The Canadian company said no.
The smaller company feared that meeting the demand would violate customer privacy, said a person familiar with the episode. The devices from Ecobee also work Alexa, Amazon’s voice-controlled assistant, and it was already sharing some data with Amazon, the person said. In addition, the company feared that Amazon would gain insights from the users of Ecobee that it could Use in competing products.
Amazon responded that the rejection could affect Ecobee’s ability to sell on Amazon’s retail platform if Ecobee does not provide its data.
Amazon’s tactic of using dominance in one company to force partners to accept terms from another company is a familiar one, said former Amazon executives and officials at receiving-end companies.