Ever wondered why Android TV lives on a plethora of third-party hardware while Amazon's Fire TV only runs on a few internationally rather unknown sets? It's not that Amazon isn't interested in working with manufacturers — the problem is Google. As reported by Protocol, the company hinders its competitor from entering this market with the same strategy that makes it hard for Amazon and others to get their Android forks on other manufacturer's phones and tablets: Whenever a company commits to using Android TV, it has to sign an agreement that forbids it from using other software based on Android.

The gist of the problem is the confidential Android Compatibility Commitment agreement manufacturers have to sign when they want to build end-user hardware running on Google's version of Android with Play Store access. They have to accept that they're not allowed to ship devices with a forked Android OS, which is what Fire TV is. The rule doesn't only affect Amazon and its Fire OS television sets. It also stops TV manufacturers from building their own operating systems based on Android, and potential newcomers wanting to offer anyone their own Android OS will almost certainly be doomed. Additionally, TV companies often have broadly different strategies across territories and tons of sub-brands, so opting to use Android TV comes with far-reaching consequences.

The European Union previously forced Google to allow phone manufacturers the use of both Play Store-enabled software and Android forks coming without Google services. The company complied and promised to change its licensing terms in Europe, but so far, it seems like it's dragging its feet. Either way, it's certainly possible that another EU fine is coming for Google since the TV and phone situations are basically identical.