Fire TV might be having trouble with adoption because of Google
posted Friday Mar 13, 2020 by Scott Ertz
When it comes to streaming sticks and set-top boxes, it is a close battle between Google and Amazon. Chromecast and Fire TV devices share a large majority of the device market. However, when it comes to televisions themselves, the Fire TV market is incredibly small. It's certainly not because Amazon is uninterested in the market, as they do produce a TV operating system. It's also definitely not because customers don't want Fire TV built into their televisions, or they wouldn't continue buying over the top devices.
So, why is Fire TV almost entirely missing from the smart TV market? According to industry insiders, the problem lies with Google. Because Fire TV is a branch of Android, it causes problems with Google's licensing contracts. For a manufacturer to be able to include the Google Play services into their devices, they cannot manufacture a product featuring a branched version of Android.
As it turns out, this is not platform-specific. In fact, companies that manufacture Android smartphones cannot use the prime version of Android or the Google Play services, including the app store, if they also manufacture a Fire TV television. So, companies like Samsung, LG, and TCL, all of whom produce Android phones, cannot use Amazon's smart TV platform.
Google has used this tactic as a means to strongarm its hardware partners into not making competing platforms, specifically for smartphones. However, when it comes to Android TV, it has not produced the same result. Samsung has its own platform, LG uses webOS, and TCL uses the Roku TV platform. The restriction has not led to a large number of Android TVs, only a large number of non-Amazon televisions.
Google has been under a lot of fire for its policies that are intended to extend its market lead by exploiting that lead. There is little doubt that this potentially anti-competitive behavior will also come under scrutiny thanks to the revelation of the industry's best-known secret.