If you’re an average Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV Stick owner, chances are you’re unaware that both devices are currently backordered into next month. More so for the Fire TV Stick, but this has been the state of Fire TV supply for most of this year. Having the line of streaming devices go out of stock after a big sale, like Prime Day or Black Friday, is expected, but there must be other reasons for the current outage. Amazon, like any other company, will just tell you supply can’t meet demand, so here’s my speculation on why the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick are so hard to buy these days.
Of the two devices, the Fire TV Stick has generally been much hard to get ahold of than the Fire TV set-top box. The first plausible reason for this is the recent launch of the 2nd-gen Fire TV Stick in three new countries. The new Stick launched in the UK on April 6th, launched in India yesterday, and launched in Germany today. This has certainly put a strain on supply and redirected most of the supply to these three countries.
Something to keep in mind with a product launch is that Amazon doesn’t just have to make enough to cover pre-orders. They also have to make and ship a huge number of devices to all the various retail stores that stock the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick on their shelves. These devices aren’t sold yet, but they might as well be because they aren’t available to fulfill orders from customers ordering through Amazon. Once all the various stores receive their initial supply, the stress on Amazon’s factories is relieved as things return to a normal resupply trickle as devices get sold from the shelves of these stores.
While a device’s launch in a new country affects that one device the most, the demand can, and has likely, affected other Amazon devices. The Fire TV box has been mostly in stock this year, but in the last few weeks it has also become backordered, likely due to Amazon’s factories focusing on making Fire TV Sticks. I’ve also seen Fire tablets and Echo models briefly go out of stock for no apparent reason, possibly due to the Fire TV Stick’s production priority.
Another possible contributor to the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick’s short supply is production issues for the Alexa voice remote. This is complete speculation on my part, and I wrote about this theory earlier this year, but I still believe the production bottleneck might be the remote. The voice remote has been in extreme short supply for much longer than either the Fire TV or Fire TV Stick. It will be backordered for months, come back into stock for a day and then immediately be backordered for a couple more months. This cycle has repeated several times over the last year and it just happened again this week.
The current Fire TV voice remote model deputed in 2015 with the 2nd-gen Fire TV, so as its 2 year anniversary approaches, it could now be difficult to source parts for this design. The new remote that will ship with the upcoming Fire TV Edition televisions might look a lot like the existing voice remote, but the circuitry is completely different since it uses Bluetooth to communicate, instead of a WiFi-direct like the existing remote. The shift back to a Bluetooth remote, like the 1st-gen devices had, could indicate a reason for Amazon to want to abandon the existing remote model.
The final contributing reason for the prolonged backorder is the reseller market. There are still numerous resellers who buy Fire TVs and Fire TV Sticks, load them with piracy software, and resell them on eBay for a profit. With supply so restricted, these resellers are snatching up every unit they can get ahold of. Employees of electronic stores like Best Buy and Staples have told me they have people waiting for the store to open every single morning to buy any and all Fire TV Sticks that arrived overnight. If there’s that kind of demand at physical stores, it’s safe to assume resellers across the country have placed a maximum number of backorders on Amazon site, which keeps the device out of stock.
Amazon’s website currently says the Fire TV will be back in stock on May 5th and the Fire TV Stick will be back in stock on May 13. I would assume that both devices will be regularly in stock in about a month, since the international launches will have passed, which should lift the primary strain on supply.