The specifics aren’t entirely clear, but it seems as though Amazon has increased the requirements necessary for an Amazon account to download free apps on the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. Device owners have always needed to have an Amazon account that had the 1-click buying option configured before being able to download any apps, whether they were paid or free, but it seems as though that isn’t enough anymore. Several people trying to use my Downloader app have told me they are now seeing error messages, referencing their Amazon account details, when trying to install apps.
It’s not entirely clear what has changed, but it seems Amazon is now requiring a more full-fledged Amazon account in order to install apps. One negative review from yesterday for my app says they are being asked to update their billing address. Another user has told me he is being asked to make similar changes. A credit card or other payment method may now also be required. A few weeks ago I received messages from several people saying they were being asked to simply login to their Amazon account when trying to use my app, which doesn’t make much sense since they would have to already be logged into an Amazon account to even use a Fire TV in the first place.
Whatever the specifics are, it seems clear that Amazon wants Fire TV users to have more information associated with their Amazon accounts before being allowed to access the appstore. This is very likely another attempt to discourage the use of bogus Amazon accounts on the Fire TV, much like the mass deregistration of devices that was occurring a few months ago.
Amazon continues to have a piracy epidemic with the Fire TV and it’s greatly amplified by resellers who buy Fire TVs and Fire TV Sticks, load them with piracy software, and resell them for a profit with the promise of free movies and TV shows. One of the main issues with this for Amazon is that the buyers of these devices continue to use the resellers bogus Amazon account, which was used to configure the device, instead of logging in with their own Amazon account.
It seems likely that these stricter new requirements for Amazon accounts to access the Fire TV appstore are an attempt to encourage those buying devices from resellers to, at the very least, login with their personal Amazon account. I welcome this change if it means Amazon will no longer deregister devices just because a single Amazon account has more than a certain number of Fire TVs registered to it.
7/28/17 This article originally incorectly stated that a credit card has always been required to download free apps.