It seems Amazon is keeping track of how many Fire TV Sticks a customer has purchased in the past and is not allowing anymore to be purchased once a certain quantity has been reached. A reader, who tells me they have purchased approximately 22 Fire TV Sticks in the past from Amazon, has sent me the above screenshot showing that they are no longer able to purchase any Fire TV Sticks from Amazon. Regardless of how many Fire TV Sticks are added to their cart, the quantity is changed to zero with a message indicating that zero is the new “maximum allowable” Fire TV Sticks they can purchase.
Limiting the total number of Fire TV Sticks a customer can purchase is likely an effort by Amazon to impede resellers who preload Fire TV Sticks with piracy software and sell them on sites like eBay for a profit. There are several resellers who have individually sold thousands of Fire TV Sticks each. This listing alone, for example, has sold over 7,000 units. The Fire TV Stick has quickly become the go-to device for TV show and movie pirates, thanks to its inexpensive price and flexible Android-based operating system.
Limiting sales is just the latest action taken by Amazon to deflect the Fire TV Stick’s growing piracy reputation. Last year, Amazon removed Kodi, a media player app, from their appstore, because occording to them “it can be used to facilitate the piracy or illegal download of content.” While Kodi itself does not provide access to pirated content, its unrestricted add-on capabilities have allowed third-parties to develop piracy add-ons that stream pirated TV shows and movies directly through Kodi. The thousands of Fire TVs and Fire TV Sticks on eBay advertising free movies and TV shows come preloaded with these piracy add-ons.
Amazon’s ban of FireStarter, a popular alternate Fire TV launcher app, last month was also likely related to their effort to make the Fire TV Stick less desirable to resellers and pirates. FireStarter was used by many piracy resellers as a means to bypass the default Fire TV interface and simplify access to pirated content.
It’s unclear if Amazon’s new purchasing limitations extend to the Fire TV also, or if it only applies to Fire TV Stick sales. I’m told Best Buy is also limiting Fire TV Sticks to 1 per customer in their physical stores and 3 per customer through their website, but it’s unknown if that restriction is related to Amazon’s limit on total sales.