Skip to main content

Google's Android policy prevents TV makers from producing Amazon Fire TVs

Android TV
Android TV (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • By licensing Android, a company agrees not to manufacture another device running a fork of Android, or it will lose access to Google apps and the Play Store.
  • That prevents companies from producing TVs running both Android TV and a fork such as Amazon's Fire TV OS.
  • The policy also extends to other products, stopping companies like LG and Samsung from using Fire TV OS on TVs or else they could lose access to the Play Store and Google apps on smartphones.

When a company licenses Android from Google for a smartphone, it does so with specific stipulations. One of the requirements being that it bars you from producing devices with a forked version of Android. If you do, then you take the risk of losing access to Google apps, including the Play Store.

That's a pretty big incentive to not make a phone or other device running a forked version of Android. As we've seen with the whole Huawei situation, losing access to Google apps and the Play Store can be detrimental to business. Huawei is currently projecting a loss of 20% in sales for 2020 after losing complete access to Google services.

Recently, it was also revealed the same policy that prevents smartphone makers from producing phones with forked versions of Android, also extends to TV makers. Speaking to Protocol, under the protection of anonymity, an employee at a major TV manufacturer said, it could lose access to the Play Store and Google apps for all of its devices if it made a product using a forked version of Android.

They cannot do Android TV and Fire TV simultaneously.

The policy essentially forces TV manufacturers to choose either Android TV or a fork such as Amazon's Fire TV when selecting software for its products. If it tried to use both, it runs the risk of losing access to Google's apps and the Play Store when using Android TV.

The policy also spans across different product lines. For example, LG and Samsung both produce smartphones as well as TVs. When the companies agree to license Android for smartphones or TVs, they also agree not to use a forked version of Android no matter what product they are producing. Meaning, neither company can create a TV running Fire TV OS, or else it would lose access to the Play Store and Google apps on its smartphones as well.

Google defends the terms in the Android Compatibility Commitment by saying they are there to ensure a consistent and secure software experience. However, these terms have essentially cut Amazon's Fire TV software out of the TV market.

Best Cheap Android TVs in 2020

13 Comments
  • And that's why I rather buy a dumb downed TV and buying a Firestick instead.
  • Good luck finding a dumb TV that isn't totally rubbish.
  • Sadly. It's the one reason I'm still holding on to my LG dumb down that isn't rubbish. I just hate spending money on something I probably won't ever use.
  • You mean like new cars that have features I don't want just to get the price point up? That happens with a lot of products. I also guess you don't like insurance. ;-)
  • Another issue is that these TV sticks also take up an HDMI port which other devices such as game consoles and Blu-ray players use. Depending on how many HDMI ports your TV has, this could end up resulting in a cable juggle.
  • Game consoles are Blu Ray players. That redundancy is unnecessary. Most decent TVs have 3 ports, so I don't think that is really a big deal. I have a smart TV with PS4, Roku Oremiere, and an unused HDMI port. Living room TV is similar. 3 ports (but not a smart TV). Most smart TVs have slow software, u less it's an expensive device. That's why I keep the roku as well. For the performance boost, even though I kind of prefer the native TV apps.
  • I didn't know Samsung TV ran on Android I thought it was some kind of Samsung OS
  • It is on its own OS called Tizen. But hypothetically if it wants to use Amazon Fire OS it can't since its phones need Android
  • "Google defends the terms in the Android Compatibility Commitment by saying they are there to ensure a consistent and secure software experience. However, these terms have essentially cut Amazon's Fire TV software out of the TV market." Bull💩! They just want market dominance and are trying to use every tool and dirty trick available to limit or eliminate competiton. Of course it's not like Amazon or Apple don't do the same things as well...
  • Does this not go against a monopoly policy of some kind?
  • Not really. The fire tv devices are far more affordable, even for uhd hdr smart TVs. Plus, I prefer Amazon's content ecosystem to Google's. I like a single vendor approaches for that stuff.
  • I agree with Google. Who wants a dual booting smart TV? I use webOS which is great. But I do miss having the assistant.
  • It is not about a double booting TV. It is about making TV sets with Android and Fire in different devices. Whoever makes Fire TV OS will not be licensed to make Android TV as well.