You may want to think twice before hacking your Fire TV set-top box to get around its limitations.
In the latest firmware update for Fire TV, Amazon has added a mechanism that determines whether you’ve rooted (aka hacked) the device, and if so, renders the set-top box completely useless. On top of that, the update prevents you from downgrading to an earlier version of the firmware, according to AFTVnews.
“‘Self destruct’ eFuse added to kernel which gets triggered if an older bootloader is used. This means Fire TVs that update to stock 188.8.131.52_user_514013920 can never be downgraded, even if a method to root them is discovered,” AFTVnews’ firmware notes state.
The firmware was released last month and included new support for Prime Music, a device “sleep” mode feature, and a few other bells and whistles. I’m guessing that this is what the majority of Fire TV owners noticed about the updated software, as most people either don’t have the technical background to root their device or are happy with the Fire TV as is.
But some people are compelled to root their Fire TV because Amazon doesn’t give you access to digital media from USB storage devices and won’t allow you to download apps from the Google Play store. It’s a bit frustrating, because the consensus among geeks seems to be that you should be able to do whatever you want with something you paid for.
Amazon, however, has no interest in having the Fire TV operate outside of its own long-term strategy.
Why? Well, Fire TV is sold at cost, meaning Amazon doesn’t make any money off the device itself. Instead it relies on digital media sales (buying or renting movies, TV show episodes, applications, etc.). This seems like a sound business plan because the only things you can purchase on the Fire TV are from Amazon. So if Amazon suddenly has competition from Google, it becomes far less attractive to produce a branded set-top box.