The new 2nd-gen Amazon Fire TV went out of stock shortly after its release date. The shortage seemed to be a result of the pricing mistake which reduced the flagship streaming device’s price by 20% just two days after its debut. When the new Fire TV Gaming Edition, which was not affected by the pricing mistake, also went out of stock a few days later, many began to speculate that Amazon was artificially haulting sales due to numerous software issues surounding the new device. A trusted source on the Fire TV team who wishes to remain anonymous has informed me of the true reason for the new Fire TV’s lack of availability. Amazon is giving all new Fire TVs that arrive from the factory to employees to create a large pool of internal testers for the massive bug fixing effort currently in effect.
Amazon is diverting every new Fire TV arriving from the factory to this internal campaign to make the new streaming device rock solid. All employees in Amazon’s hardware division are being asked to take a new Fire TV home and participate in software testing and reporting. I’m told there are currently about 500 people in this pool of Fire TV testers. Each one is given nightly tasks to test new software and is reporting their findings back to the Fire TV team the following day.
An entire team of people are solely working on making sure the new wifi based remote, which has been plagued with disconnection issues, is rock solid in the upcoming version 5.0.3 software release. Other bugs, I’m told, that are being worked on are low volume issues and surround sound fixes.
One of the new device’s largest complaints, a lack of Dolby Digital surround sound support, which has been partially fixed already, stems from changes made to support Netflix. I’m told by my source at Amazon that Netflix gave the Fire TV engineering team a new version of their software at the last minute which required changes to the Fire TV’s software to work correctly. Those changes conflicted with Dolby Digital surround sound support. With not enough time to fix support for both, Amazon was faced with the decision to ship without Netflix or without Dolby Digital surround sound. They chose the latter which, in my opinion, was the right choice.
New Fire TV owners should expect to see numerous software updates in the coming weeks. Amazon has set an official deadline of November 30th for the remaining Dolby Digital support, but I’m told to expect the new Fire TV to return back in stock before then.
The new Fire TV’s amiss release stemmed from a change in directors at Amazon which resulted in an abbreviated schedule and a relaxation of quality standards. I’m told that there aren’t any hardware issues with the new device, and that the Fire TV team is completely confident and committed to fixing all the software issues and delivering a product they will be proud of.